- Oakland to see more police on the streets if City Council OKs $1.8 million proposal (Oakland Tribune)
With Oakland leaders desperate for a way to reverse the rise in violent crime and avoid a federal takeover, council members Larry Reid and Libby Schaaf are pushing to infuse the city’s anemic police patrol by adding support staff, outside officers and a third police academy. The extra staff and 10 Alameda County Sheriff Officers could be in place by the spring of 2013 if the Oakland City Council approves their proposal in January instead of waiting until July to adjust the budget.
- Pandora’s box: The cost of ‘free’ music (SF Chronicle)
How much should “free” music cost and who should pay for it? That’s the deceptively simple question at the heart of the latest round of legal wrangling surrounding the Oakland-based online radio service Pandora, which has launched an effort to get federal legislation passed to lower royalty rates paid to musicians so that it may remain competitive. In response, more than 100 artists, including high-profile acts like Rihanna, Pink Floyd and Katy Perry, have signed an open letter opposing the move. “Pandora’s principal asset is the music,” the letter states. “Why is the company asking Congress once again to step in and gut the royalties that thousands of musicians rely upon? That’s not fair and that’s not how partners work together.”
- Health insurance rates could shoot up (SF Chronicle)
California health insurers are proposing double-digit rate increases for hundreds of thousands of policyholders, drawing criticism that health insurers are padding their profits as the nation prepares to carry out the federal health care law. Anthem Blue Cross, the state’s largest for-profit health insurer, wants to raise rates an average of 17.5 percent for 744,000 members in February, with some Anthem policyholders seeing increases as high as 25 percent.
- As promised, heavy rain smacking the Bay Area (Oakland Tribune)
The deluge of rainfall promised by weather forecasters has arrived in the Bay Area, bringing with it power outages and snarled roadways. The steady downpour has already delivered significant rainfall totals to the region during a span of 24 hours ending at 6 a.m. Friday. Central Contra Costa County got a strong soaking, with 1.84 inches reported in Moraga and 1.14 inches in Concord. Oakland recorded .85 inches and San Jose got .63 inches of rain.
- Dozens of Bay Area school districts have used a risky and costly form of financing (Contra Costa Times)
Dozens of school districts in the Bay Area are among 200 statewide that have borrowed billions of dollars to build and upgrade schools using bond financing that critics are blasting because it burdens homeowners with high debts that take up to 40 years to pay off at exorbitant interest rates. A Los Angeles Times analysis of statewide school district bond financing released this week has district officials and financial advisers buzzing, with some critics saying the practice of using capital appreciation bonds should be banned altogether. The critics point to the Poway district in Southern California, where taxpayers will spend about $1 billion to pay off a little more than $100 million in construction funding.
- Oakland police union chief to answer for newspaper story (Oakland Tribune)
The president of Oakland’s police union is facing questioning from Internal Affairs after being quoted in a newspaper story about a union legal brief critical of department leadership. One day after the story ran in the San Francisco Chronicle, Barry Donelan received word that Internal Affairs wanted to meet with him about being a witness or filing a complaint over one of the brief’s main arguments — that officers have been victims of “dishonest” investigations and arbitrary punishments.
- Asian workers now dominate Silicon Valley tech jobs (SJ Mercury News)
Asian-Americans make up half of the Bay Area’s technology workforce, and their double-digit employment gains came from jobs lost among white tech workers, according to an analysis by this newspaper of Census Bureau data released Thursday. The dramatic shift in the changing composition of the high-tech workforce represents a new generation of homegrown and imported workers drilled in science, technology, engineering and math studies. But the shift in workplace demographics — at least among tech companies — fails to reflect the gains of California’s Hispanic and Latino population, which lost ground in tech jobs along with African-Americans.
- Santa Clara County Supervisor George Shirakawa ’embarrassed’ by questionable charges for meals, golf, hotel stays (SJ Mercury News)
Declaring he is “embarrassed by oversights on the use of my county-issued credit card,” Santa Clara County Supervisor Board President George Shirakawa told supporters in an email that he takes “full responsibility for these errors” that have forced him to reimburse taxpayers thousands of dollars for car rentals, personal hotel stays and golfing at a Nevada golf club. The embattled supervisor also lashed out at local newspapers for what he called “scandalous printed ‘sound bites’ ” that he said challenged his accountability and misrepresented his actions, offering a point-by-point rebuttal to some of his most questionable charges. But some of the specifics in his rebuttal raised even more questions.