Friday, July 15, 2011

Coliseum to Open Its Management Contract to a Public Bidding Process

by Ellen Cushing
Fri, Jul 15, 2011 at 11:26 AM

For years, Oakland's major event venues — the Coliseum and the neighboring Oracle Arena — have lagged behind the competition, booking fewer big concerts and raking in less money than comparably-sized venues in other cities. In 2008, an outside audit declared the Oracle Arena to be "underutilized" and "underperforming"; earlier this month, the Coliseum's operators came under fire for mishandling the parking situation at a U2 concert.

And as late as yesterday, it looked like venue officials were going to renew their no-bid contract with SMG Management, which has overseen the Coliseum for the past ten years, and which is offering the Coliseum Authority a $1.5 million capital contribution.

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Friday Must Read: Ignacio and Brooks Get Special OPD Treatment; Brown Signs Law Requiring LGBT Education

by Robert Gammon
Fri, Jul 15, 2011 at 10:48 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. Oakland Councilmembers Ignacio De La Fuente and Desley Brooks requested and received special treatment from the Oakland police department when each of their cars were burglarized, the Bay Citizen reports. The councilmembers both used their influence to call high-ranking OPD officials to get police to respond to their problems — in possible violation of city law. In addition, the understaffed police department normally makes car burglaries a very low priority and often doesn’t respond to them, but the department sent sergeants to investigate both councilmembers’ burglaries. The incidents also occurred at a time when both De La Fuente and Brooks refused to hire more police officers than the 22 cops that Mayor Jean Quan plans to bring back.

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But our favorite detail: What was De La Fuente doing with a briefcase in his car stuffed with $1,000 in cash and twenty Rihanna and Sade concert tickets?

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Thursday, July 14, 2011

UC Board Votes to Approve Fall Tuition Increase

by Rachel Swan
Thu, Jul 14, 2011 at 12:57 PM

Cal students, your fears were warranted. Just a couple days after the California State University board approved a 12 percent tuition increase, UC regents followed suit with a similarly steep 9.6 percent tuition hike. Meant to account for a precipitous loss of $150 million in state funding, the new price point would raise annual tuition at UC to $12,200 — up more than $1,000 from last year, the Chron reports. That means a university education will be even more cost-prohibitive for low-income students.

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Coliseum May Renew No-Bid Deal with Management Firm

by Robert Gammon
Thu, Jul 14, 2011 at 11:57 AM

East Bay public officials plan to vote tomorrow on a proposal to begin the process of renewing a no-bid contract with a private firm that manages the Oakland Coliseum and the next-door Arena. The proposal to extend SMG’s exclusive deal comes after strong criticism was leveled at how a recent U2 concert was handled and following an outside audit in 2008 of the Coliseum and Arena operations that criticized SMG for not booking more concerts and other events.

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Oakland May Lose Major Employer

by Robert Gammon
Thu, Jul 14, 2011 at 10:46 AM

Oakland may be on the cusp of losing at least one major employer, possibly two. The Metropolitan Transportation Commission, which shares space in Oakland with the Association of Bay Area Governments, appears poised to approve a plan to move its headquarters to San Francisco. MTC, and possibly ABAG, would share space with the Bay Area Air Quality Management District at the old post office building at 390 Main Street in the city. The air district likely will approve the deal on Monday, although it won’t become final until MTC’s board votes on it later this month.

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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

You Write Too Long: This Week's Feature, Bite-Sized

by Ellen Cushing
Wed, Jul 13, 2011 at 5:02 PM

This week, intrepid weed columnist David Downs investigates into the not-so-green side of weed — and a small collective of Humboldt-area farmers who are trying to sell sustainable, organically grown marijuana. It's a bucolic scene up there — think birds chirping, deer grazing, and weed plants the size of small trees, all grown naturally under the Humboldt sun — and outdoor weed is nowhere near the CO2-spewing, resources-guzzling, public-safety-endangering clusterfuck that pot grown indoors is. Only problem: Californians are hooked on the indoor stuff. This group of growers, the Tea House Collective (or THC — get it??) hopes to change that, and appear to be having some luck. Read more here.

Wednesday Must Read: CSU Tuition Now Twice What It Cost in 2007; California Leads Nation in Green Jobs

by Robert Gammon
Wed, Jul 13, 2011 at 10:31 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. The California State University board approved a 12 percent tuition hike, raising annual student fees to $6,422 — double what it was just four years ago, the Chron and CoCo Times report. The new fee hike for this fall comes on top of a 10 percent increase that was already approved, meaning tuition will be more than 20 percent higher than last year. The massive fee hikes are the result of $650 million in cuts to the CSU system this year by Governor Jerry Brown and the state Democrats to balance the state budget. The huge tuition increases also are making it increasingly difficult for low-and middle-income students to get a college degree in California.

2. California continues to lead the nation in green jobs, according to a new study from the Brookings Institution, the LA Times and Mercury News report. Statewide, 320,000 people are employed in green jobs, and nationwide, the clean economy employs 2.7 million people — more than the fossil fuels industry. But the new study is sure to spark controversy because it uses an expansive definition of green jobs to include mass transit and green waste management.

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Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Menlo Hotel Owner Pleads Guilty to Arson Scam

by Rachel Swan
Tue, Jul 12, 2011 at 12:23 PM

The now-infamous owner of Oakland's Menlo Hotel pleaded guilty to an arson plot, for which he paid an unnamed informant $65,000 in order to burn down the 7-story building and collect a maximum insurance payout, the Associated Press reports. Singer, who is 44 and a resident of Tiburon, will be sentenced on August 31.

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Tuesday Must Read: PG&E Blames San Bruno Blast Victims; Amazon.com to Fight Sales Tax at Ballot Box

by Robert Gammon
Tue, Jul 12, 2011 at 10:14 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. In a surprise move, PG&E said in court documents that victims of the deadly San Bruno pipeline explosion are partially responsible for it because of alleged “negligence,” the Chron reports. The utility, however, did not explain how the victims of the blast could have been negligent or how they could have played a role in an explosion that killed eight people and destroyed a neighborhood. PG&E also argued in court that any victim who received money from the utility for damage to their property should not be able to sue for additional funds, even though PG&E said earlier that the payouts — $15,000 to $50,000, depending on severity of damage — would not affect civil lawsuits. PG&E also is seeking to blame a sewer contractor for the pipeline blast, saying the work it did in 2008 likely weakened the pipe, even though investigators have so far said a faulty weld in the pipe, coupled with too much pressure in the line, was the likely cause of the explosion.

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Monday, July 11, 2011

Former American Apparel Employee Wins $343 K in Race Discrimination Suit

by Rachel Swan
Mon, Jul 11, 2011 at 4:50 PM

In the past couple years clothing company American Apparel has garnered criticism for its policy of firing — or simply not hiring — employees who it deems too ugly , as Gawker's "Apparel watch" bloggers have repeatedly noted. And now, it's contending with a different form of internal ugliness, specifically, that of racial discrimination. Last Wednesday, an arbitrator in Oakland ruled in favor of plaintiff Christopher Renfro, a former American Apparel employee who alleged that his supervisor, Sean Alonzo, repeatedly called him a "nigger" during a July 2007 business trip to renovate American Apparel stores in Tennessee. According to testimony, the company avoided disciplining Mr. Alonso until it was threatened with litigation in October. At that point, it gave him a written warning, followed by a pay raise two days later.

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