Monday, June 27, 2011

Controversial Antiabortion Billboards to Stay Up in Oakland, For Now

by Katie J.M. Baker
Mon, Jun 27, 2011 at 12:33 PM

A group of controversial antiabortion billboards targeting Oakland’s African-American community won't be taken down early, according to CBS Outdoor General Manager Jeff McCuen.

The sixty billboards in question, which currently line boulevards in both West and East Oakland, feature a sleeping African-American baby under the phrase, “Black & Beautiful” and a link: TooManyAborted.Com/CA.

The Atlanta-based Radiance Foundation, which partnered with local non-profit Issues4Life to put up the ads earlier this month, said the goal of the campaign is to draw attention to the high rates of abortion among African-Americans.

“I’m pleased with all the coverage we’ve gotten,” said Walter B. Hoye II, president of Issues4Life. Hoye — who served jail time in 2009 for violating an Oakland ordinance that bars protesters from coming within eight feet of anyone entering an abortion clinic — said he thinks the billboards will create “an environment for discussion.”

But some local politicians and advocacy groups say the billboards are racist and manipulative: “I am deeply offended by the race-based billboards that are being displayed in my congressional district,” Congresswoman Barbara Lee said in a statement. “These billboards stigmatize women of color and perpetuate myths about parenting skills and the types of women who seek and use abortion services.”

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Friday, June 24, 2011

Oakland Closes in on Deals with Unions

by Robert Gammon
Fri, Jun 24, 2011 at 6:21 PM

Oakland Mayor Jean Quan and the city council appear to be closing in on landmark deals with the city’s public-employee unions. A budget proposal made public today by four councilwomen suggests that a deal is imminent and that it would save the city about $23.6 million in the 2011-12 fiscal year and about $30.8 million in 2012-13. The budget proposal offers the most up-to-date estimate of concessions that councilmembers hope to receive, and it provides the first set of specific numbers since Quan said two months ago that she hoped to obtain $28.7 million in annual savings from union negotiations.

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Santana Appears to be a Smart Choice

by Robert Gammon
Fri, Jun 24, 2011 at 1:31 PM

The Oakland City Council appears to have made a smart decision this week in unanimously approving Mayor Jean Quan’s choice for city administrator — San Jose Deputy City Manager Deanna Santana. An Oaklander at heart, Santana has an impressive resume, with a strong background in public safety issues and the regulation of medical cannabis — two areas of prime importance in Oakland. She also has proved in her career that she isn’t afraid to take on sacred cows.

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Ignacio Wants More Concessions from OPD

by Robert Gammon
Fri, Jun 24, 2011 at 12:43 PM

Oakland City Councilman Ignacio De La Fuente said today that he believes the Oakland police union should agree to more compensation concessions than the union has indicated it is willing to do. De La Fuente declined to reveal the police union’s most recent offer at the bargaining table, but said in an interview that he believes cops should agree to give up an additional $2.3 million a year.

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Friday Must Read: Judge Halts Niles Canyon Construction; BART Tables Late Night Service Plan

by Robert Gammon
Fri, Jun 24, 2011 at 11:03 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. An Alameda County judge has halted a plan by Caltrans to cut down six hundred trees in Niles Canyon in order to widen state Highway 84, the Chron and Argus report. Environmentalists have argued that the $80 million widening project will destroy wildlife habitat along Alameda Creek and that Caltrans has failed to conduct adequate environmental studies. Judge Frank Roesch ruled that the environmental groups can go forward with their lawsuit against Caltrans. The transit agency maintains that the widening project is needed to make Niles Canyon Road safer.

Caltrans wants to cut down more trees along Alameda Creek.
  • Caltrans wants to cut down more trees along Alameda Creek.

2. The BART board of directors has tabled plans for late-night train service after a federally required civil rights study determined that the proposal would harm low-income riders. The Chron reports that the BART board postponed discussion of the late-night service proposal until July 14. At issue is whether running trains late on Friday and Saturday nights will force BART to begin train service later on Saturdays and Sundays. The civil rights study concluded that starting trains late on the weekends would unfairly harm low-income commuters who need to get to work early.

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Thursday, June 23, 2011

Only a Week Left to Cast Your Vote for Best of the East Bay!

by Ellen Cushing
Thu, Jun 23, 2011 at 10:20 AM

"A man without a vote is a man without protection" — Lyndon B. Johnson

and he's obviously very wise. So heed his advice and head on ever here to tell us all about your favorite local businesses, people, and places for our annual Best of the East Bay poll, the results of which will be published in a mammoth special issue available July 20 wherever fine newspapers are sold given away for free. Voting closes at midnight on June 30, which means you have a week. Get to it, East Bay.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Broadway Shuttle to Extend Service to 1 a.m. on Weekends

by Ellen Cushing
Wed, Jun 22, 2011 at 4:45 PM

Lazy people of Oakland, rejoice! The Broadway Shuttle — those free lime-green buses that run from Jack London to Uptown from 7 a.m.- 7p.m. during the week — will begin rolling out later service on Friday and Saturday nights starting in July, per the service's Twitter feed. The shuttle — which started running last summer and which gets its funding from various city sources as well as a $1 million grant from the Bay Area Air Quality Management District — has been rumored to be seeking funding for later service for awhile, the idea being that later service could potentially drum up major business for bars and restaurants along the Broadway corridor. A post- 5 p.m. phone call to the project's manager wasn't immediately returned, and the service's Twitter feed implores us to "stay tuned for more details."

Update, 7 p.m.: According to aforementioned project manager Zach Seal, the shuttle will run about once every fifteen minutes, from 7 a.m.-1 a.m. on Fridays and 6 p.m.-1 a.m. on Saturdays. The night route will differ slightly from the daytime route in that instead of running straight up Broadway and stopping at Grand Avenue, it'll turn onto Telegraph at 15th, run up Telegraph past Rudy's Can't Fail Cafe and the Fox Theater, turn back onto Broadway at 20th, and go all the way up to 27th Street. According again to Seal, the service extension is being covered by a grant from the Alameda County Transportation Commission's Transportation Fund for Clean Air and will cost about $200,000 annually.

More on the Controller's Decision to Suspend Legislator Pay

by Ellen Cushing
Wed, Jun 22, 2011 at 10:50 AM

Well, it certainly hasn't been a good week for our state legislators: on Friday, as you probably know, Jerry Brown vetoed the budget proposal passed by state democrats, and as of last night, they're not even getting paid. Now, it's looking like much of controller John Chiang's decision centers around his his determination that education funding alloted in the proposed budget would fall at least $1.3 billion short of the amount legally madated by Proposition 98. Per John Fensterwald at Educated Guess:

The Legislature has the right to appropriate less than schools are entitled to — they did it last year for the current budget — but suspending Prop 98 demands a two-thirds majority. Democrats, who passed the budget bill by a majority vote, didn’t try, and it’s no mystery why. Republicans, at this point at least, are saying they won’t supply the votes needed for suspension....John Mockler, who wrote the Prop 98 law two decades ago and was familiar with this year’s budget process, said that, in writing their budget, Democrats acknowledged that they owed school districts $1 billion in “settle-up” costs from the current and previous years’ budgets. This is the final amount after the books are closed. Mockler said that Democrats then disregarded the debt, figuring they’d pay it sometime in the future.

Yikes. At any rate, Brown is expected to propose a new budget as soon as today — though, as Fensterwald points out, who knows how he'll make more cuts without the Republican votes needed to suspend 98.

Wednesday Must Read: Oakland Names New City Administrator; Brown Promises New Budget

by Robert Gammon
Wed, Jun 22, 2011 at 10:28 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. The Oakland City Council unanimously confirmed Mayor Jean Quan’s nomination of Deanna Santana to be the new permanent city administrator, the Trib and Chron report. Santana had been a deputy city manager in San Jose, and formerly worked in Oakland city government. She is to begin August 1, and will replace interim city manager P. Lamont Ewell.

2. The City of Oakland and its police and firefighters’ unions still have not reached a deal on contract concessions, the Chron reports. The city is asking the two unions for about $21.7 million in givebacks, and then hopes that other city unions will agree to about $7 million in concessions to help Oakland close its $56 million budget deficit. Under the city charter, the city council must pass a balanced budget by June 30, leaving a little more than a week to reach deals with the unions.

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Oakland City Council Approves Zoo Expansion

by Nate Seltenrich
Wed, Jun 22, 2011 at 8:00 AM

It’s been a long and winding road, but after fourteen years, two designs, and countless public meetings, it seems the Oakland Zoo is now able to break ground on its proposed expansion into upper Knowland Park. Last night, Oakland’s city council denied an appeal filed by Friends of Knowland Park and two partnering environmental groups against the City Planning Commission’s approval of the zoo’s amended expansion plan back in April. Barring a lawsuit, the East Bay Zoological Society, which oversees the zoo, is cleared to move forward.

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