Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Wednesday Must Read: Quan to Be Sworn in Monday at Fox Theater; UC Execs Want Bigger Pensions

By Robert Gammon
Wed, Dec 29, 2010 at 7:24 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. Jean Quan will be sworn in as Oakland’s first-ever woman mayor on Monday at the historic Fox Theater, the Trib reports. The ceremony will begin at 11 a.m. Quan also is hosting a privately funded pre-inaugural celebration Sunday night at the Chabot Space and Science Center from 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Then on Monday morning, before the swearing-in ceremony, Quan will lead a “Remembering and Making History” walk through downtown, beginning at 8:30 a.m. in Chinatown. Quan also will be Oakland’s first Asian-American mayor. Also being sworn in Monday at the Fox will be Libby Schaaf, the newest city council member. She’s replacing Quan on the council. The swearing-in ceremony also will include an election of the city council president.

2. Highly paid executives at the University of California are demanding bigger pension payouts at a time when retirement benefits for most other UC employees are being slashed, the Chron reports. The UC system is facing a $21 billion unfunded pension liability, but the executives say they were promised bigger pensions years ago, and they’re threatening to sue if the Board of Regents don’t live up to that promise. The executives’ demand would boost annual retirement benefits for those who make $400,000 a year from the current $183,750 to $300,000. The group of executives threatening to sue includes Christopher Edley, Jr., dean of UC Berkeley’s law school, and Richard Lyons, dean of UC Berkeley’s business school.

3. The recent big storms have pushed the Sierra snowpack to 200 percent of normal for this time of year, the Chron and Mercury News report. Although it’s still early in the rainy season, the hefty snowpack provides hope that California’s years-long water shortage may end in 2011. The weather forecast this week calls for a dry New Year’s Eve, with another possible storm arriving on New Year’s Day. Temperatures also are expected to become colder this week.

4. Despite the strong holiday shopping season, consumer confidence dipped unexpectedly in December throughout the nation, Bloomberg News reports. Consumers remain worried about the US job market. But economists say that the surge in holiday shopping indicates that the consumers might say they’re concerned, but aren’t acting that way.

5. An increasing number of sex offenders in California are becoming homeless and so the state can’t keep track of where they are, the Chron reports. The problem stems from a provision in Jessica’s Law, which makes it virtually impossible for sex offenders to find homes in most California cities, because they’re not allowed to live within 2,000 feet of parks or schools. State Senator Mark Leno of San Francisco says he plans to put forward a plan to fix the law.

6. Oakland appears to be the new dumping ground for dead bodies, as two women were killed in recent weeks and then their corpses were dumped in the city. The first was a 21-year-old woman from Fresno whose body was found at Martin Luther King Jr. Shoreline Park. The second dead woman, a 40-year-old from Richmond, was found at the entrance of a bike trail off Skyline Boulevard. Police believe both women likely were killed elsewhere and their bodies were driven to Oakland — although investigators do not believe the two homicides are connected.

7. And Oakland has lost 200 government jobs in recent weeks, and is expected to lose close to 250 more, the Trib reports. The National Park Service is moving 166 employees to San Francisco, and the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement is shifting 35 to 50 employees out of Oakland. The Federal Emergency Management Agency also is expected to move 247 workers out of Oakland — possibly to Sacramento.

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