Thursday, January 19, 2012

Thursday Must Read: Oakland Sends Out 2,500 Layoff Notices; Brown Opposes Plan to Extend Redevelopment Until April

By Robert Gammon
Thu, Jan 19, 2012 at 7:00 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. The City of Oakland sent out 2,500 layoff notices yesterday, and raised the total number of potential job losses to four hundred as officials scrambled to deal with the fallout of Governor Jerry Brown and legislature’s decision to kill redevelopment statewide, the Chron reports. City officials decided to issue layoff notices to nearly every worker inside City Hall in order to provide the city council maximum flexibility in deciding how to overhaul Oakland government and deal with the loss of up to $30 million in redevelopment funds each year. The council will make the layoffs decision next week. The only departments exempted from the layoffs are police and fire because their union contracts prohibit more job cuts.

2. Brown, meanwhile, said he opposes a bill in the legislature that seeks to extend the deadline for eliminating redevelopment from February 1 to April 15. “I don’t think we can delay this funeral,” Brown said. In his state of the state speech, Brown also pushed hard for high-speed rail, urging the legislature to approve $2.7 billion in bond funds for the controversial project and labeling opponents “declinists,” the Chron reports. Brown also pushed for his November tax measure and his proposed overhaul of K-12 education financing. The governor wants to give local school districts more power over how to spend taxpayer money — a move that some oppose because it could result in larger class sizes.

3. The Oakland’s A’s lease at the Coliseum expires in 2013 and some local officials want the team to pay higher rent, noting that Oakland has leverage over the A’s right now, the Trib reports. The A’s are in a bind because they have nowhere else to play. Even if Major League Baseball approves the A’s move to San Jose, the team’s new ballpark won’t be ready for several years and there are no other baseball stadiums in Northern California suitable for baseball — other than the Coliseum. The only other is AT&T Park in San Francisco, but the Giants say the A’s are not welcome there.

4. Ward Connerly, the former UC regent who led the fight to kill affirmative action in California and other states, is being accused by a former longtime employee of using funds from his nonprofit for personal gain, the LA Times and Chron report. The employee, Jennifer Gratz, said Connerly’s nonprofit was in financial disarray in part because it was paying Connerly more than $1 million a year in compensation — far more than it could afford. Gratz also said the nonprofit is being investigated by the US and state departments of justice for financial irregularities.

5. And President Obama announced yesterday that his administration will block the controversial Keystone XL pipeline project — a move hailed by environmentalists. The pipeline would have expanded the extraction of dirty tar sands oil in Canada and was heavily supported by the oil industry and Republicans. Obama said his decision was prompted by a requirement from Congressional Republicans to rule on the pipeline’s fate by February — a timeline that he said didn’t provide enough opportunity to thoroughly study the issue.

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