Friday, December 16, 2011

Friday Must Read: Quan Jeered at Occupy Forum; Council Moves to Stop Future Port Shutdowns

By Robert Gammon
Fri, Dec 16, 2011 at 6:59 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. Oakland Mayor Jean Quan was jeered last night by Occupy protesters during a forum on the Occupy movement in San Francisco, the Trib reports. Occupy protesters remain livid at Quan for twice ordering police to clear the Occupy encampment at Oakland City Hall. Quan praised the Occupy movement for furthering progressive goals, like taxing the rich, but expressed no regrets for her actions. She also criticized Occupy Oakland for not considering small downtown businesses in Oakland, particularly in Chinatown, that she says were harmed by Occupy protests.

2. The Oakland City Council, meanwhile, is moving forward with a proposal to use force to block future shutdowns of the Port of Oakland by Occupy protesters, the Trib reports. Councilmembers were frustrated that the Oakland Police Department took a non-confrontational approach to Monday’s port shutdown, while police in other cities had cracked down on similar port blockades.

3. The City of Berkeley, meanwhile, may be preparing to crack down on the Occupy Berkeley encampment, the Berkeley Voice reports. Berkeley officials are growing increasingly frustrated with what they say is illegal and unruly behavior at the tent city across from Berkeley High.

4. Chevron, one of the world’s largest corporations, is demanding a $50 million property tax refund for its Richmond refinery, Bay City News reports. The oil giant, which benefits from tax loopholes and generous government subsidies, contends that its Richmond property has been overvalued by the Contra Costa County tax assessor’s office. Opponents of the refund demand, however, note that it would decimate West county services if awarded. Chevron has already been granted an $18 million tax refund over the same issue.

5. About two hundred workers are being fired at Pacific Steel and Casting in Berkeley this holiday season following an immigration crack down at the plant, the CoCo Times reports. Pacific Steel officials say federal immigration officials have left them no choice but to fire about one-third of their workforce. Oakland City Councilman Ignacio De La Fuente, who represents the Pacific Steel workers’ union, is appealing the firings through the National Labor Relations Board.

6. The large diesel-fuel spill at UC Berkeley last weekend that flowed into Strawberry Creek sickened people who work downstream, the Berkeley Voice reports.

7. PG&E is shutting off power to residents who remove their SmartMeters and replace them with analog devices, the Chron reports. Many people complain that SmartMeters are making them sick because the digital units emit electromagnetic radiation, but PG&E is taking a hard-line stance against people who remove them.

8. The City of Berkeley has closed its historic warm pool, which was popular for people with disabilities and mobility problems, the Chron reports. The warm pool is seismically unsafe and Berkeley voters rejected a ballot measure that would have paid to upgrade it.

9. Governor Jerry Brown blasted the Republican Party yesterday for being in “absolute denial” over climate change, the Chron reports. Brown said Republicans are engaging in “cult-like behavior of political lemmings that would take us over the cliff.”

10. And the City of Oakland is offering consumers a parking meter holiday tomorrow and next Saturday, the Trib reports. Motorists won’t have to feed parking meters, but they could still get tickets if they park longer than posted signs allow.

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