Enter the feds

Apr 3, 2012

Federal agents swooped down on Oaksterdam University in Oakland and on the apartment of marijuana entrepreneur Richard Lee, in the latest in the federal crackdown on marijuana distributors in California, where medical use has been authorized by voters.


From the Chronicle's Matthai Kuruvila: "The armed and sometimes masked agents from the U.S. Internal Revenue Service, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency and the U.S. Marshals Service came with a battering ram, a sledgehammer, power saws and a locksmith."


"They left Oaksterdam University carrying numerous file boxes, a safe and black trash bags. From other downtown properties, agents carried away sacks with dozens of marijuana plants."


"This is really an attack on regulation," said Dale Sky Jones, executive chancellor of Oaksterdam University. Without regulation, she said, "what's going to change is who is selling it, the good guys or the bad guys."


More on Richard Lee from the Bee's Peter Hecht: "Lee, dubbed "the mayor of Oaksterdam" as he became a familiar sight propelling his wheelchair between his cannabis school and other businesses, said he couldn't comment on the raids. But others spoke out angrily as federal agents hauled out trash bags, containing what looked likemarijuana plants grown at the university."


"...They didn't distribute cannabis at this university. They distributed knowledge. "It's not a coincidence they went after Richard Lee," DeAngelo added. "They are trying to silence him."

The builder of the 7,000-acre solar energy project -- one of the largest in the world -- in the desert near Blythe is filing for bankruptcy. Solar Millenium and its affiliates were putting together a power complex capable of serving 300,000 people.


From George Avalos in the Contra Costa Times: "Solar Millennium and the affiliated companies listed combined debts of up to $500 million and combined assets below $100 million, according to papers filed with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware."


"The bankruptcy filings came in the wake of a failure by the German parent to find a buyer for the pipeline of solar projects in the United States, including the Blythe complex. Since filing for insolvency, Solar Millennium of Germany has been under the control of a German administrator and "has ceased to provide any funding whatsoever" to the bankrupt companies, Edward Kleinschmidt, chief operating officer of Solar Trust of America, stated in a court filing."


Years later, the fight over Proposition 209 is still being fought out in the courts: A three-member appellate panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit rejected an attempt by minority student activists to restore race-linked, preferential admissions at UC. The Chronicle's Bob Egelko has the story.


The suit - filed by 55 UC applicants and an advocacy group called By Any Means Necessary, and supported by Gov. Jerry Brown - argued that the legal rationale for Prop. 209 had been undermined by developments since the initiative passed in 1996."


"One development was a 2003 U.S. Supreme Court ruling allowing universities to consider applicants' race as a factor in promoting campus diversity. The other was a 50 percent drop in admissions of Latinos, African Americans and American Indians at UC in the first year after Prop. 209 passed."


"Minority enrollment has risen somewhat since then under UC policies to admit the top 4 percent from each California high school, and to give less weight to applicants' scores on standardized tests."


The California State University, victim of state budget woes, has lost $1 billion in four years while, at the same time, tuition has doubled.


From Tami Abdollah at KPCC: "The California State University system has been hit with about $1 billion in state funding cuts since 2007-8. At that time, state funding accounted for about 67 percent of the overall $4.5 billion operating budget, said CSU spokesman Mike Uhlenkampf. Fast forward to 2011-12, and the state provides about 50 percent of the nearly $4 billion budget."


"The system has tried to compensate for that loss by nearly doubling tuition, bringing it up from the $2,772 per year for a full-time undergraduate in 2007-8 to $5,472 in 2011-12. Along with such tuition increases the system cut programs and instituted other cost-saving measures such as leaving positions unfilled, Uhlenkamp said. That has allowed it to recoop about half, or $500 million of those cuts, he said."


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