The Roundup

May 1, 2012

Short sale

The aftermath of the decision to shut down California's 400 redevelopment agencies is being felt across the state, and nowhere more strongly than in San Jose, which had the state's second-largest redevelopment agency. Some three dozen properties are being sold off as the city liquidates the assets.


From Tracy Seipel in the Mercury News: "While the oversight board is charged with getting the maximum value out of the properties, San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed and Councilmen Sam Liccardo and Don Rocha last week asked in a memo that a handful of the properties retain their current uses if possible."


"For example, they have requested that the Jose Theater, a city landmark and home to the San Jose Improv, and the San Jose Stage Co., inside a building at 490 S. First St., both continue to serve as performing arts venues."


"We have an obligation to make sure that people are not misled about the prospective uses for these types of properties," Reed said. Though a buyer could decide to raze a site in order to build a high rise, Reed said the council is giving them fair warning that's not likely to happen for a handful of sites. Of the 34 properties to be listed, only six have no restrictions."


"The others have caveats. For example, two already are under contract, including a property valued at $31 million for development at the North San Pedro Housing site, and a carwash and vacant lot site valued at $3.5 million across the street from San Jose City Hall."


And you thought the $100,000 Club for government pensions was a big deal? Forget it: Take a look at a Muni payout in San Francisco, courtesy of the Chronicle's Matier & Ross.


"When it comes to city worker payouts, forget the old $100,000 club or even the $250,000 club - the new elite among San Francisco's civic workforce are those who got more than $500,000 in pay last year."


"Leading the pack is former Muni chief Nathaniel Ford. He was squeezed out of the final year of his contract to make room for Mayor Ed Lee's pick, Ed Reiskin."


"Ford received a buyout of $400,184, plus $167,411 for the part of the year he actually worked, for a total takeaway of $567,595."


Down south, job payouts are getting a look, too, but in a different way as municipal workers fight for employment in the midst of L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's proposed budget cuts.


From the Daily News' Dakota Smith: "Villaraigosa's 231 proposed layoffs would touch many city departments, but primarily affect the civilian side of the Los Angeles Police Department.

The plan to close a $238 million deficit follows years of cutbacks by Villaraigosa, who has eliminated more than 4,500 positions during his tenure."


"Whether the City Council will go actually through with the layoffs is unclear."


"In past budget years, layoffs have been avoided by shuffling around employees, finding new sources of funding to pay for staff and reaching concessions with unions."


Jobs aren't the only things on the chopping block. Dental care also was slashed statewide because of budget cuts, and dealing with the issue isn't easy.


From HealthyCal's Callie Shanafelt: "Roughly three million poor and disabled Californians had their coverage for dental services cut three years ago, and community dental clinics have struggled to cover preventative services ever since."


“It was not something we wanted to do,” says Robert Isman, a consultant with the Dental Program for California Department of Health Services. “We knew that there would be repercussions and there have been."


"Dental services aren’t mandated under the federal Medicaid program and California, with a program called Denti-Cal, was one once of the few states to cover non-emergency services for adults. But with the state budget crisis, legislators cut the non-mandatory services."


The so-called "Super PACs" seem to be growing like topsy, and the latest example is in the Berman-Sherman shootout, where a PAC just poured in $500,000 into a cable TV buy on behalf of Howard Berman. That may not sound like much, but cable TV is a lot more targeted -- and cheaper -- than broadcast TV, and 500k can go a long way in a congressional race.


From the LAT's Jean Merl: "A so-called Super PAC has bought nearly $500,000 in cable television advertising to support Howard Berman, who is warring with fellow Democratic Rep. Brad Sherman for  a San Fernando Valley congressional district seat."


"The  Committee to Elect an Effective Valley Congressman bought political ads on several Time Warner Cable systems in the Valley, starting Tuesday and running up until the June 5 primary."


"The Sherman campaign announced details of the purchase and raised several questions, including why the Super PAC had not listed other campaign expenditures in its report to  federal election officials and suggested that it was trying to hide the source of its contributors by waiting until  the latest filing period ended, on March 31, to make the  cable TV ad  buys."


In Berkeley, which seems to be Ground Zero in the federal government's crackdown on marijuana dispensaries, a facility is poised to close its doors after 13 years.


From Doug Oakley in the Contra Costa Times: "The 9,000 member Berkeley Patients Group has not yet found a suitable new location in Berkeley and plans to open a delivery service, dispensary management said Monday. Sixty nine employees of the dispensary will be out of work come Tuesday, but they will be paid through the end of the month."


"There's a lot to take into account in trying to follow state and local laws in finding a place," said Sean Luse, chief operating officer, as customers streamed in to the dispensary on its last day. "There's a lot of fear out there in the community and that's part of the challenge. We're keeping our fingers crossed."


"The dispensary at 2747 San Pablo Ave. is across the street from a school called the Center for Early Intervention on Deafness and three blocks from a second school called Ecole Billingue de Berkeley. City and state laws require dispensaries to be at least 600 feet from any school. The dispensary was established before city guidelines on proximity to schools were put into law."


Automobile nostalgia buffs may get a chance to rejoice: Legislation is pending that would allow the DMV to issue retro-style license plates, including the old black-on-yellow plates. 


From the Bee's Jim Sanders: "Assembly Bill 1658 would allow the Department of Motor Vehicles to issue plates resembling those of the 1950s, through ’80s for a fee – $50 initially, $40 per year – to cover administrative costs and raise money for environmental projects...."


"Plates would not be issued by the DMV until 7,500 had been ordered by the public. They would come in three classic designs, with black lettering on a yellow background, or yellow lettering on either a black or blue background." 


Meanwhile, Los Angeles authorities are considering outlawing extreme skateboarding. It seems that going down hill at high speeds can be dangerous and some residents are saying enough is enough.  KPCC's Erika Aguilar tells the tale.


"This week, the L.A. City Council could put an end to an extreme style of skateboarding called “bombing.”


"Bombing is when a skateboarder shoots down a hill at high speed. The practice is thrilling, but dangerous; in January, a 15-year old boy was killed in a collision with another skateboarder during a “bombing” run down a hill in San Pedro."


"Kevin Rodriguez – who’s 17 - says he doesn’t wear a helmet when he bombs, even though the law says he should. But he says he’s careful not to skateboard downhill into traffic.

“Sometimes we do it in the night time," says Rodriguez, before adding, "There’s no cars. Or we do in parking lots or private downhills.”


And from our "Blind Date"  file comes the tale of the German nymphomaniac who grabbed a guy named Dieter right off the street. Achtung!


"The woman met her latest victim, a 31-year-old African man, on her way home from a sex addiction clinic in Munich."


"She invited him back to her flat where she kept him hostage and forced him to satisfy her sexual demands."


"The victim eventually managed to break out of the apartment after his attacker fell asleep. He was later found weeping on the street by police."


"He fought back tears to tell them: “I met her on a bus. She invited me back here. It was hell. I can’t walk. Please help me.”






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