The tax man cometh

Sep 11, 2012

Mega-retailer Amazon will begin on Saturday collecting sales tax from California customers -- a circumstance it long sought to avoid -- and plans to put distribution centers across the state to serve its legions of loyal customers.


From the Bee's Dale Kasler: "With shoppers craving overnight and even same-day delivery, Amazon plans to build a network of warehouses, or fulfillment centers, in California. The first two will be in Patterson, southwest of Modesto, and San Bernardino."


"Before the centers could open, the company had to make a deal with Gov. Jerry Brown. So it bowed to political pressure, backing a law requiring Internet merchants to collect sales tax if they have a warehouse or other major physical presence in the state."


"Amazon essentially traded taxes for warehouse space."


San Francisco wants state public health authorities to conduct a new study of the Treasure Island cleanup, saying the potential for the earlier handling of radioactive material needs to be examined. The Navy is turning the Island over to the city.


From the Bay Citizen's Matt Smith and Katharine Mieszkowski: "San Francisco has asked the agency "to provide assistance in addressing concerns about radioactive contamination at Treasure Island," a state health department spokesman, Ken August, confirmed in an email, adding that the agency has asked San Francisco to provide more specifics about the proposed independent survey."


"The Navy is preparing to transfer the former Treasure Island Naval Station to San Francisco next spring, allowing for a planned 8,000-unit housing development. Under a 2010 agreement signed by former Mayor Gavin Newsom and U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi, a San Francisco Democrat, the city is to pay the Navy $105 million plus a share of development profits – as long as the Navy meets a series of transfer deadlines, which hinge in part on a timely cleanup of hazardous waste."


"But state officials have complained that the Navy rushed its evaluation of Treasure Island's radioactive past and present and that the contractors it hired overlooked radioactive contamination and improperly handled soil containing radioactive material, according to internal memos and emails obtained by The Bay Citizen. The Navy also failed to thoroughly examine the island for low-level radiation, according to the documents, leaving the possibility that it has not identified all of the radioactive waste. "


It's not often you see the cost estimates of a major public project stay flat or even decline, and the NFL stadium in L.A. is no exception -- the cost is rising, according to a new report.


From the Daily News' Dakota Smith: "AEG is seeking to build a 76,000 seat stadium in downtown Los Angeles, and has offered to relocate and rebuild the West Hall of the Convention Center to complete the deal."


"According to the report, the cost of the new hall and associated parking structures has risen from $350 million to $374 million."


"Under the financing plan suggested by Miller's team, the city would issue between $287 million and $385.4 million in lease revenue bonds, as well as between $93.4 million and $109.7 million in Mello-Roos bonds, which cities can issue by creating special tax districts. That figure is higher than the original estimate outlined in an memorandum of understanding with AEG last summer."


Speaking of L.A., officials are taking steps to turn the library card into a major form of identification of illegal immigrants, a move that would enable them to open bank accounts and access a large array of city services.


From the LAT's Catherine Saillant: "The City Council unanimously voted recently to consider the proposal, which would have Los Angeles join the growing number of cities across the nation that offer various forms of identification to undocumented workers and others who cannot get driver's licenses because of their immigration status."


"Though L.A.'s plan would not be as sweeping as those adopted by cities like San Francisco, Oakland and Richmond, it would be a major step in serving the estimated 300,000 residents who don't have bank accounts or debit cards."


"The ID card would include a user's name, address and a photograph, and would be issued through the city's libraries. The city would partner with a private vendor to set up bank accounts for those who want to use the library ID as a debit card. Banks generally require official identification to open an account."

"Backers of reforms in the Oakland Police Department say Mayor Jean Quan has been avoiding testifying about the issue. Now, the feds have stepped in: A Magistrate said Quan could face penalties if she misses another deposition.


From the Chronicle's Justin Berton: "Federal Magistrate Nathanael Cousins warned the mayor to show up at a deposition later this month or face possible punitive actions."


"Attorneys trying to put the Police Department under federal receivership requested the action after Quan canceled an all-day deposition scheduled for Aug. 30, saying her job required her elsewhere."


"The attorneys, Jim Chanin and John Burris of Oakland, want Quan's answers before an Oct. 4 deadline for submitting arguments on whether U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson should impose receivership on the department. Henderson will hold hearings on the issue in December."




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