Thursday, April 4, 2013

Thursday Must Read: Oakland May Owe the State More than $30 Million in Redevelopment Funds; East Bay School Districts Get Bad Grades for Educating Low-Income Students

By Robert Gammon
Thu, Apr 4, 2013 at 10:14 AM

News stories that East Bay progressives and environmentalists shouldn’t miss:

1. Oakland Mayor Jean Quan told a city council committee this week that state officials will demand that the city pay the state more than $30 million in former redevelopment funds, the Trib reports. The money came from the sale of several properties, including the Henry J. Kaiser Center, by the city to the Oakland redevelopment agency before the state killed such entities in 2011. The city never spent the money; it’s sitting in an $84 million reserve fund. However, the expected move by the state means the city’s finances are in much worse shape than expected.

2. A new independent report has awarded D-grades to the Oakland, Berkeley, Alameda, and West Contra Costa Schools districts for their failure to adequately educate low-income and black and Latino students, the CoCo Times reports. The report by Oakland-based Education True-West also gave Oakland and West Contra Costa schools, which include the city of Richmond, F-grades for the wide achievement gaps between white and black and Latino students.

3. Children are more likely headed for a life of crime if they fail to learn adequate coping skills at a young age, the Trib reports, citing extensive research on aggression and criminality. The research shows that all kids are naturally aggressive until they learn to control their anger, typically by the age of four. But some kids who grow up in violent surroundings tend not to learn effective skills for controlling their natural aggression. The Trib also has an excellent piece today on a young Oakland man who has nearly forty family members and friends who were murdered in the city.

4. Young girls on social media are increasingly obsessed with having skinny legs and of having a so-called “thigh gap” — a small space between their upper thighs, the Mercury News reports. Girls on Facebook and Twitter routinely share photos of ultra-thin models with skinny legs, a development that experts say may prompt the girls to starve themselves.

5. The Bay Area’s housing crunch has gotten so bad that investors are paying cash for homes without ever seeing them, SFGate reports. The fierce feeding-frenzy for homes is being caused by lack of inventory on the market coupled with investors who are willing to outbid each other.

6. The Berkeley City Council voted to increase residential parking fees by about $10 a year to help make up a budget shortfall, Berkeleyside reports. The annual fee will increase from $34.50 to $45.00.

7. And a new experiment that involved raising juvenile salmon in flooded Delta rice fields appears to have been wildly successful, as the salmon emerged fat and healthy, the SacBee$ reports. The experiment, if expanded, could help restore historic salmon runs in Northern California.

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