Pope Benedict XVI has steadfastly denied having direct involvement in the wide-ranging sex-abuse scandal that has rocked the Catholic Church for the past two decades. But then late last week, the Associated Press dropped a bombshell. In the 1980s, Vatican official Joseph Ratzinger — the current pope — waited six years before defrocking an East Bay pedophile priest who had confessed to tying up and raping young children. In a letter to the Oakland Archdiocese, Ratzinger explained that the delay was for "the good" of the Catholic Church.
Ratzinger's letter confirms what had been widely known for some time, that the Vatican has protecting itself when it should have been protecting children. After all, there was no doubt that priest Stephen Kiesle was a pedophile. He had been convicted of child molestation. He even pleaded directly to Rome in 1981 to take away his priesthood — as did then-Oakland Bishop John Cummins. At the time, Cummins knew the Vatican was obsessed with avoiding scandal, so he repeatedly warned Ratzinger that allowing Kiesle to remain a priest would be worse for the church than defrocking him. But Ratzinger said it was not in the church's best interests to remove a 38-year-old from the priesthood when there was a shortage of priests — even if that priest rapes children.
As a result, Kiesle was allowed to return to his former parish in Pinole as a volunteer "youth minister," before the church finally defrocked him in 1987. He was eventually charged with molesting many more kids, but escaped prosecution because the victims and their parents waited too long to report the crimes to police. Their mistake was going to the church for help. In 2004, Kiesle was convicted of molesting a young girl in 1995. After his prison sentence, he moved to Rossmoor.
Climate Change: The GOP's Waterloo?
California Republican candidates, led by Meg Whitman, are running on a platform to roll back the state's landmark climate-change legislation. But a poll revealed that the GOP's strategy could prove to be a mistake. The Field Poll shows that AB32, the 2006 law that Whitman and Republicans want to suspend because they claim it will harm the economy, has the support of 58 percent of state residents, according to the Sacramento Bee.
Moreover, 69 percent of respondents said that the state can reduce greenhouse gases "and expand jobs and economic prosperity at the same time." Poll director Mark DiCamillo told the Bee that Californians "tend to believe ... it will add jobs in the long run rather than detract." The opposite, in other words, of what Whitman and other Republicans contend.
The Field Poll, meanwhile, also appears to be bad news for Texas oil company Valero, which hopes to put a measure on the November ballot that would indefinitely suspend AB32.
San Leandro May Cost Oakland
The San Leandro City Council has partially backtracked on ranked-choice voting. The Daily Review reported that Councilwoman Diana Souza changed her mind when the new format came up for final passage last week, resulting in a 3-3 tie. The measure will now come back for another vote on April 19, when the council's seventh member will be on hand. And if San Leandro chooses not to implement ranked choice voting this year, it may end up costing Oakland hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The reason is that an about-face by San Leandro could mean that Oakland and Berkeley, the two other cities that intend to use ranked choice voting in 2010, would have to shoulder all of the start-up costs for the new format.
In January, the San Leandro Council had voted 5-2 to implement ranked choice voting this year. And now that Souza has changed her mind, the council's seventh member, Michael Gregory, who missed last week's meeting, will have to vote for the new format again for it to be used this year. If he doesn't, the city would have to pay extra for a run-off election for November races in which the top vote-getter failed to win a majority.
Shelling Out for the A's
The City of San Jose plans to spend at least $20 million on property for a new Oakland A's ballpark, raising the city's total land expenditures on the proposed stadium to at least $46 million, according to the Mercury News. Fremont, meanwhile, plans to use a $333,000 federal grant to study possible future uses for the former NUMMI auto plant, including a new A's ballpark, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. As for Oakland, Major League Baseball officials are concerned, according to the Chronicle, that the city may not generate enough corporate sponsors to make a privately financed ballpark viable in Jack London Square.
The US Census is concerned about Oakland residents failing to fill out their census forms. As of last week, only 60 percent had mailed in their forms, far below the national average. As a result, Oakland and Alameda County are in danger of losing lots of federal money, and having their political voice diminished nationwide. ... Oakland police Sergeant Derwin Longmire, who failed to vigorously pursue the CEO of Your Black Muslim Bakery in the assassination of journalist Chauncey Bailey, has sued the city for allegedly damaging his reputation. ... Some BART board members who are up for reelection are proposing a temporary rebate on rider fares now that the transit agency is suddenly flush with state funds.