Friday Must Reads: Oakland Has Seventh Worst Income Inequality in Nation; East Bay Refinery Refuses to Allow Federal Inspection

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Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. The income inequality gap in Oakland is the seventh worst in the nation among large cities, the Brookings Institution reports in a new research paper based on the latest US Census data (via the LA Times$). The inequality gap in Oakland ranges from $17,646 in average annual income for the lowest 20 percent of households to $223,965 for the highest 5 percent. San Francisco’s income inequality gap ranks as the second worst nationwide — mostly because it’s rich are very rich. The top 5 percent of households in terms of income averaged $353,576 in San Francisco last year. Income inequality creates numerous problems for cities, including a lack of mixed-income schools that produce better outcomes for children from low-income families, a too narrow tax base that can’t produce enough revenues for basic city services, and a lack of housing for the middle class.

The Tesoro refinery in Martinez.
  • The Tesoro refinery in Martinez.
2. In an unprecedented move of defiance, Tesoro refinery officials in Martinez are refusing to give federal inspectors access to the facility following an accident in which two workers were injured when they were sprayed with sulfuric acid, the Chron reports. Even though the state ordered the refinery to shut down following the incident, Tesoro officials contend that the accident was not serious enough to warrant a federal inspection. Federal authorities, however, say that Tesoro is wrong and that no refinery has ever before denied them access.

3. Both houses of the state legislature are quickly moving forward with bills that would outlaw so-called “dark money” political campaigns in the state and require that nonprofits that engage in political advocacy disclose the identities of their donors, the SacBee$ reports. Republicans, however, remain opposed to the legislation because they contend that political donors should have the right to contribute anonymously.

4. State Senate leader Darrell Steinberg has introduced legislation to create a carbon tax on gasoline consumption in California — a move that would increase gas prices by about 15 cents a gallon, the LA Times$ reports. But many environmental groups oppose the bill because it would usurp the state’s new cap-and-trade program for gas consumption.

5. Richmond city leaders have put forward a new plan to deal with the city’s scandal-plagued Housing Authority, following a series of hard-hitting news reports this week from the Center for Investigative Reporting, the CoCo Times$ reports. The plan calls for an immediate inspection of all housing authority properties and an independent review of the troubled agency’s finances.

6. And Marin Sun Farms, which produces grass-fed meat, announced that it has purchased a Petaluma slaughterhouse that has been plagued by unhealthy conditions, the Chron reports. Marin Sun Farms said it will clean up the slaughterhouse, which is the only one in the region.

$ = news stories that may require payment to read.

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