Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Tuesday Must Reads: Oakland Unions Denounce Quan’s Proposal; DeSaulnier Schedules Hearing on Bay Bridge Bolt Scandal

By Robert Gammon
Tue, Apr 30, 2013 at 6:56 AM

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

1. Oakland’s public employee unions are protesting a contract proposal by Oakland Mayor Jean Quan that would require them to pay a higher share of rising healthcare and pension costs, while cutting some sick-leave benefits, the Chron$ reports. Quan’s proposal also calls for the elimination of fifteen unpaid furlough days, but unions are demanding no more concessions after several years of givebacks to the city. The city is in better financial shape now because of the recovering economy, but as the Express previously noted, Quan is proposing to steer $24 million in new expected tax revenues to the police department in the next two years to hire more cops.

Mark DeSaulnier
  • Mark DeSaulnier
2. State Senator Mark DeSaulnier of the East Bay has scheduled a May 14 hearing concerning the Bay Bridge bolt scandal, following a revelation over the weekend that there are more than 1,200 large bolts on the new eastern span that could snap in an earthquake, the Chron$ reports. The Chron$ reported on Sunday that Caltrans used hard, galvanized steel bolts on the new bridge, even though they have been banned on bridges because they can become brittle and break in a marine environment. Thirty-two of the giant bolts have already snapped and the 1,200 others were designed to the same specifications. "We paid for a bridge that was supposed to be unlike any other bridge in the world when it comes to safety," said DeSaulnier, chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee. "Now we are not sure we even have a run-of-the-mill bridge."

3. The Oakland Police Department made a bit of progress toward meeting federally ordered reforms during the most recent reporting period, according to the court-appointed monitor overseeing the department, the Trib reports. Attorney John Burris, who is part of the monitoring process, attributed the progress to the fact that the department was on its way to getting a new compliance director when the report was completed.

4. The majority of motorists — 60 percent — who strike and kill pedestrians in crosswalks usually face no criminal charges in the Bay Area, according to a probe by the Center for Investigative Reporting. Prosecutors say vehicle manslaughter cases are difficult to win in court.

5. Three bills that would put a moratorium on fracking in California passed Assembly committees yesterday in the latest sign that Sacramento may halt the controversial oil and gas-extraction method until tough regulations can be enacted, the Ventura County Star reports (via Rough & Tumble).

6. And expect hot weather this week as the forecast calls for temperatures that will be ten to twenty degrees above normal for this time of year, the Chron$ reports.

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