Friday Must Read: Obama Tax Deal Passes; California Adopts Cap-and-Trade



Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. President Obama’s tax deal with Republicans passed the House of Representatives last night, despite opposition from some progressive Democrats who objected to extending the Bush tax cuts for the rich, the Chron reports. “It's a shame and a disgrace,” said Congresswoman Barbara Lee of Oakland. “We know who's going to pay. It's going to be on the backs of low-income people, the working poor, communities of color. ... The notion that we would go back and extend the Bush-era tax cuts, which created the deficits and unemployment, doesn't make any sense to me.” However, without extending the tax cuts for the wealthy, Republicans would have blocked tax cuts for middle-class and low-income families, meaning everyone’s taxes would have gone up January 1. The deal also extends jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed for another thirteen months.

2. California regulators adopted historic climate-change rules last night, approving a cap-and-trade system designed to slash greenhouse gas emissions and boost renewable energy production, the Chron and Mercury News report. The new system, approved by the California Air Resources Board, is the first of its kind in the nation. It will go into effect in 2012, and will cut greenhouse gases by more than 20 percent by 2020.

3. State regulators ordered PG&E to cut pressure in older natural gas pipelines by 20 percent in major urban areas, including a line that runs from Oakland to Fremont, the Chron reports. The order by the California Public Utilities Commission followed the revelation that the deadly San Bruno gas-line explosion may have been caused by faulty welds that PG&E didn’t know existed.

4. Oakland’s plan to tax and regulate four large medical cannabis farms is being questioned by Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley, California Watch reports. O’Malley sent a letter to Mayor-elect Jean Quan earlier this month, raising the same concerns expressed by the Obama administration and Oakland City Attorney John Russo. At issue is whether Oakland’s plan to tax the farms as separate business entities from medical pot dispensaries violates state law. O’Malley also raised the question of whether Oakland political officials will be held criminally liable by the feds. The Oakland City Council will address the controversy Tuesday night.

5. Oakland has a dismal record of collecting fines levied on people who dump trash throughout the city, the Trib reports, citing a new audit. City Auditor Courtney Ruby found that the city has spent $300,000 attempting to collect fines, but has only brought in about $30,000 in recent years. City Administrator Dan Lindheim said the city’s fine collection efforts are meant to be a deterrent against trash dumping. Overall, it costs the city $5 million annually to collect all the dumped trash.

6. Home prices in the Bay Area dipped for the second straight month, as fewer expensive homes sold, apparently because of the difficulty buyers are having obtaining jumbo loans, the CoCo Times reports. The housing market also is being affected by rising mortgage rates, AP reports.

7. Hooters is being targeted by the National Organization for Women because the restaurant chain that features scantily clad female employees also caters to children, the Chron reports. NOW says that Hooters is violating state and federal laws that prohibit adult entertainment businesses from serving minors.

8. BART will open its expensive West Dublin/Pleasanton station in February, the Chron reports.

9. Oakland’s historic Altenheim retirement home in the city’s Dimond District has reopened after being closed for eight years, the Chron reports. The facility, which originally opened in 1896, will serve seniors from all different backgrounds — not just those of German descent, as it has done in the past.

10. And Facebook’s sales are expected to reach $2 billion this year, more than double its 2009 revenue of $800 million, Bloomberg News reports.