Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Wednesday Must Read: Cities Race to Spend Redevelopment Funds; State Water Outlook Is Positive

By Robert Gammon
Wed, Jan 19, 2011 at 7:06 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. Cities throughout California are racing to spend redevelopment funds out of fear that the Legislature will approve Governor Jerry Brown’s plan to transfer the funds to state coffers, the Chron and Mercury News report. Brown wants to eliminate redevelopment agencies in California and use the tax money they receive to help bridge the state’s $28 billion budget gap. But the move would kill revitalization efforts in cities up and down the state. Napa and Fremont are both moving to tie up redevelopment funds right away before the state takes the money. And San Jose is holding an emergency meeting today to do the same.

2. California’s water supply looks to be plentiful this year thanks to heavy rain and snow in December. The Chron reports that federal officials are now estimating that the state will be able to fulfill 100 percent of water supply requests, which is welcome news to the state’s agricultural industry. However, those estimates could change if the current dry weather extends through February and March.

3. The Berkeley City Counci put off voting on a plan to set aside a total of $20,000 each year for sex-change operations for city employees, the Berkeley Voice reports. Some city residents strongly oppose the plan, noting that the city is facing financial difficulties, and had to close Willard Pool last year because of a lack of funds.

4. A group of investors has purchased Berkeley Crossings, a large research and office complex on Fourth Street, for $15 million and plans to lease to high-tech firms, the Trib reports. The property was valued previously at $28 million, but it’s been 70 percent vacant since it lost its anchor tenant, the Discovery Channel.

5. Manzanita SEED Elementary, a small school in Oakland’s Fruitvale District, is one of two schools in the state to be recognized for closing the achievement gap, the Trib reports. About 85 percent of children at the school come from low-income families and about half enter kindergarten as English-language learners, yet the school’s test scores are well above state goals.

6. The number of green jobs in California grew by 3 percent in 2008 at a time when the overall economy was tanking, the Chron reports, citing a new study. However, green jobs still only make up a tiny fraction — 0.9 percent — of jobs in the state.

7. Researchers at UC San Francisco say they’ve discovered a blood test that appears to predict whether people will suffer from Alzheimer’s or dementia, the Chron reports. However, the researchers do not recommend widespread use of the test because there’s no treatment for Alzheimer’s.

8. Oakland Raiders’ owner Al Davis turned the introduction of new coach Hue Jackson into a rambling indictment of former coach Tom Cable, the Chron and Trib report. Davis spent a half-hour at a press conference yesterday recounting Cable’s many problems, including allegations of mistreating women, as Jackson and his family looked on.

9. MediaNews, owner of the Trib, the CoCo Times, and the Mercury News, is looking for a new chief executive now that banks have taken major control of the newspaper chain. Dean Singleton, the chain’s longtime CEO who steered it into financial trouble by buying up so many papers, will remain chairman of the board of directors.

10. And Apple posted record earnings for the fourth quarter of 2010 — $6 billion — but the company’s stock took a hit on the news of Steve Jobs’ medical leave of absence.

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