UC Berkeley Sports Center Fight Drags On 

And so does the interminable California budget crisis.

The fight over whether UC Berkeley can build its new sports center just keeps agonizingly crawling toward a conclusion. This time, Alameda Superior Court Judge Barbara Miller fully approved the university's plans to rip out dozens of oak trees that happen to be in the way of the new center. But that just cleared the way for the Panoramic Hill Association and the California Oak Foundation to file an appeal, dragging the whole mess back into court. If the appellate court bans construction during the appeal, the fight could well last up to eighteen more months. Frankly, the suspense is starting to wear us down.

Hmm, what else is dragging along, never quite reaching a resolution, and forcing us to tear our hair out? How about the California budget crisis, which has now entered its ninth week of bickering, negotiations, and stress? State Democratic lawmakers already had to skip the national convention, and now Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has decided not to attend the Republican convention in St. Paul this week. Senate President Don Perata tried to put his budget compromise to a vote last Friday, but couldn't muster the two-thirds majority needed to pass the plan. You guessed it: the temporary sales tax hike scuttled the deal. So now we have officially broken the record for going the longest without a state budget. And they say there's nothing left to achieve anymore ...

Port Cancer Plan Lacks Details

But the state legislature isn't the only official body doing nothing in the midst of a crisis. According to air pollution officials and environmentalists, the Port of Oakland also is sitting on its hands. Back in March, a new study raised considerable hackles by reporting that West Oakland residents are at a significantly higher risk for cancer, owing in part to the diesel trucks that idle outside the port gates, belching toxins into the air. Port officials recently released a plan to reduce air emissions, but the head of the Bay Area Air Quality Management District immediately slammed the plan for lacking both a timetable and specific details on who was going to do what. Apparently, West Oakland residents shouldn't stop checking for suspicious lumps just yet.

Jerry Brown Gets Tough on Pot

On the other hand, California Attorney General Jerry Brown hasn't been wasting time lately. Last week, at Brown's request, state drug enforcement agents raided a Southern California medical marijuana dispensary, claiming that the facility was really a drug dealing operation in disguise. The raid coincided with Brown's announcement of new regulations for medical pot clubs around the state. From now on, if you want to sell the stinky bud to glaucoma patients, you've got to register as a nonprofit, sell only to legitimate patients, and get your wholesale supply from other pot cooperative members, as opposed to professional growers out to make a fortune. The move was hailed by many medical pot club operators, who claim that underregulation had let less philanthropic club operators bring blight and drug dealing to otherwise pleasant neighborhoods.

Police, Feds Raid Anarchist Center

What's cooking at the Long Haul? For years, lefty activists and anarchoid types used the South Berkeley office to organize demonstrations, try to run a variety of pirate radio stations, and sell medical marijuana. But something recently got the attention of the UC Berkeley police department, because last Wednesday, a crew of cops and federal agents raided the center and seized more than a dozen computers. The police thought the computers might contain evidence of felonies, specifically threatening e-mails that may have been sent to university animal researchers. Local animal rights activism has gotten a little more, shall we say, enthusiastic in the last few weeks; in Santa Cruz, someone firebombed the home of an animal rights researcher, and a second scientist had his car firebombed. Were officials looking for evidence of crimes committed in the name of beagles, white mice, and fruit flies? The next few weeks may reveal all.

Three-Dot Roundup

An Alameda County judge banned the nonprofit Oakland Community Housing from trying to evict the last seventy tenants of the California Hotel, a West Oakland low income housing facility. ... The ailing Walnut Creek temporary employment firm Westaff has worked out a deal with creditors U.S. Bank and Wells Fargo, giving the company time to turn its fortunes around before the bills come due; Westaff reported a $15 million quarterly loss in July. ... Emeryville-based juice retailer Jamba reported a remarkable second quarter loss of $89 million, deepening the financial problems that led to the ouster of the firm's CEO and chief financial officer. Apparently, consumption of four-dollar juice beverages is reduced during hard economic times. ... On the other hand, the Alameda software firm Wind River Systems reported a stellar quarter last week, doubling its income from the same period a year ago.


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