Friday Must Read: Oakland Cops Union Ok’s Pact; But Could All the Union Deals be in Trouble?



Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. The Oakland police union overwhelming approved its new contract with the city, a pact that calls for cops to pay 9 percent of their pensions for the first time, the Trib and Chron report. The deal also delays a guaranteed 4 percent raise that the cops received from an arbitrator until July 2014. In exchange, the city council has agreed to not furlough or lay off officers — although the city has no plans for layoffs, since the police force is already at historically low levels. In fact, last week the council agreed to rehire at least 22 cops who were laid off last year.

2. But is the cops’ new contract, along with all of the other deals with Oakland’s public-employee unions, in trouble? Chuck Garcia, head of the Oakland firefighters’ union told the Tribune that he’s worried that his union’s rank-and-file might not approve the tentative deal he struck with the city. It calls for firefighters to take 9 percent pay cuts. “I'm really nervous about this vote,” Garcia said. “The union leadership believes this is what we have to do. The membership, for some reason, they do not trust the city at all. They think that our protections in the contract aren't going to be real protections. They think that no matter what, we're going to have layoffs.” If the firefighters’ union refuses to endorse its pact with the city, it could void all of the other union deals — including the one with the cops’ union. The reason is that all of the pacts have “me-too” clauses that require each union to make approximately the same concessions. And so if the firefighters refuse, all of the deals may unravel, which could force the council to make drastic budget cuts in the coming weeks.

3. Jerry Brown is parlaying his position as governor to rake in millions of dollars for his two Oakland charter schools, including big contributions from special interests that have been lobbying his administration for favors, California Watch reports. A Brown spokesman says there is no quid pro quo — that the governor is not soliciting donations for his schools in exchange for favorable treatment. But there’s no doubt the governor is hauling in big bucks for his schools. So far this year, Brown has solicited a staggering $2.3 million for charter arts and military schools.

4. Oakland’s Sungevity, a successful solar-energy leasing company, is planning to hire 200 to 300 new workers to meet growing demand, the Tribune reports. Sungevity offers leasing plans that allow homeowners to install solar-rooftop power with little or no money down and affordable monthly payments. The company’s business model, as a result, is eliminating the biggest barrier to widespread solar adoption — the huge upfront costs associated with buying solar panels and installing them.

5. A coalition of environmental groups has won a court ruling that temporarily blocks Caltrans from widening Highway 101 in Humboldt County, the Chron reports. The judge in the case agreed with environmentalists that the road project threatens old-growth redwoods in Richardson Grove State Park.

6. Oakland police Sergeant Derwin Longmire, who has been heavily criticized for nearly spoiling the investigation into the murder of journalist Chauncey Bailey, has filed a second lawsuit against the city of Oakland, the Chauncey Bailey Project reports. Longmire believes he was unfairly reprimanded after he allowed Bailey’s killer, Devaughndre Broussard, to have a private, unrecorded meeting at police headquarters with the man who ordered Bailey’s assassination — Yusuf Bey IV.

7. And a dismal June jobs report is raising serious concerns that the country is headed for a double-dip recession. Many economists agree that President Obama’s 2009 stimulus package was too small, but Republicans are not only blocking a second stimulus, but are demanding huge cuts in government spending and threatening to allow the country to default on its debts — a move that threatens to destroy the nation’s economy.