Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Wednesday Must Read: Council Funds A’s Ballpark Study; Oakland Puts Big Pot Farms on Hold

By Robert Gammon
Wed, Dec 22, 2010 at 6:55 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. The Oakland City Council voted last night to use $750,000 in redevelopment funds to pay for an environmental study of a proposed new ballpark for the A’s in Jack London Square, the Trib reported. The council voted 6-2, with council members Ignacio De La Fuente and Nancy Nadel voting “no.” De La Fuente argued that the city should not spend any funds until it receives a commitment from Major League Baseball that the A’s will stay in Oakland. But Council President Jane Brunner contended that if the city didn’t fund the study, then it would send a strong signal to the league that Oakland wasn’t interested in keeping the A’s from moving to San Jose.

2. The Oakland council also voted to suspend the city’s plans to permit and tax four new large pot farms because of legal concerns, the Express and Trib report. The council voted 7-1 in closed session to reexamine and possibly alter a city pot ordinance enacted earlier this year so that it conforms to state and federal law. The move followed a letter sent by Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley to Mayor-elect Jean Quan that strongly questioned whether the city’s plan to tax the pot farms as separate entities from medical cannabis dispensaries was lawful. The council plans to take up the issue again at its February 1 meeting.

3. Six men were ordered yesterday to stand trial in the brutal gang rape of a 16-year-old girl outside a Richmond High School homecoming dance, the Chron reports. Five of the defendants face life in prison if convicted.

4. A Berkeley wind-power company is moving to Kansas City, Missouri to consolidate its operations in the nation’s windy heartland, the Chron and Mercury News report. Nordic Windpower, one of the few wind companies headquartered in the Bay Area, makes wind turbines with two blades, instead of the usual three.

5. California will not pick up any Congressional seats for the first time in ninety years because of slow population growth, the CoCo Times and Chron report, citing new Census figures. The state grew by about 10 percent from 2000, its population rising to 37.2 million. By contrast, Census data shows that Texas’ population increased by 20 percent, meaning that it will pick up four Congressional seats. Florida will add two seats.

6. The FCC adopted net neutrality rules yesterday in a move that prompted criticism from conservatives and disappointment among progressives, the Chron reports. However, the new rules appear to have appeased Silicon Valley and helped President Obama fulfill a campaign pledge. The rules will make it tougher for cable and telephone companies to discriminate against content providers.

7. And the Obama administration plans to adopt new regulations that will require health insurers to publicly justify rate increases of 10 percent or more, the Chron reports. However, the new rules do not give government the power to block rate hikes even if they’re found to be unreasonable.

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