News stories that East Bay progressives and environmentalists shouldn’t miss:
1. Rent prices jumped 14.8 percent in Oakland during the first quarter of this year, as the average price of an apartment rental in the city reached $1,947 a month, the Chron$ reports, citing a new report from RealFacts. Rent increases in Oakland even outpaced the red-hot San Francisco housing market, where rents rose by 4.8 percent in the same period — although the average rent price in SF is now $2,790.to protest Mayor Jean Quan’s budget proposal, which would require most employees to pay a larger share of their pension and health care costs, and reduce their vacation and sick leave benefits, while steering millions in additional spending to the police department, the Trib and Chron$ report. "We question the flowing of more money to [police] at the expense of vital public services that hurt the community," said Dwight McElroy, a city employee and SEIU member, according to the Trib. City unions are particularly angry at Quan after helping her win election as mayor in 2010.
3. Several members of a state-commissioned panel that is examining the safety of the new Bay Bridge have apparent conflicts of interest, the SacBee$ reports. Some of the panel members, who were appointed after a previous panel was found to have inappropriate ties to Caltrans, have had financial and professional ties to the agency that they’re supposed to be monitoring.
4. California lawmakers are calling for a federal investigation of Nevada psychiatric hospitals that routinely ship mentally ill patients to other states, the SacBee$ reports.
5. Liberal activists plan to protest Facebook’s Menlo Park headquarters today, following the revelation that company founder Mark Zuckerberg has been funding political ads that support the Keystone XL pipeline and more oil drilling in Alaska, the Trib reports.