- Obama and Leaders Reach Debt Deal (NY Times)
President Obama and Congressional leaders of both parties said late Sunday that they had agreed to a framework for a budget deal that would cut trillions of dollars in federal spending over the next decade and clear the way for an increase in the government’s borrowing limit. With the health of the fragile economy hanging in the balance and financial markets watching closely, the leaders said they would present the compromise to their caucuses on Monday in hopes of enacting it before a Tuesday deadline to avert default.
- Oakland's new manager gets big pay boost (Matier & Ross, SF Chronicle)
While Oakland's rank-and-file city workers are taking pay cuts to keep their jobs, Mayor Jean Quan and the City Council handed the new city administrator a salary that's $9,000 over top scale - then tossed in what could be a $15,000-plus bonus. Under the deal, Deanna Santana, the former deputy city manager in San Jose, will get $273,000 a year in base pay with three weeks' vacation, plus a one-time bonus of four weeks of paid "executive development" time off.
- Surplus water flowing to state's farms, reservoirs (Sacramento Bee)
California water agencies, after suffering three years of drought, are now enjoying an unusual benefit: a tide of cheap water declared "surplus" after a bountiful winter. State and federal agencies made the water available this year, under special contract terms, for the first time since 2006. The aim is to find a productive use, in cities and on crops, for the weather anomaly that brought more water than state dams can hold.
California's "three strikes" law is best known for locking up career criminals for life, but the vast majority of offenders serving prison time under the sentencing mandate were actually charged under the less-noticed second-strike provision. These 32,390 inmates are serving sentences that were doubled as a strike-two penalty, and they account for nearly 20 percent of the state's prison population. Yet most efforts to reform the law have focused exclusively on the third-strike provision, which carries with it a mandatory 25 years-to-life sentence.
On Tuesday, thousands of Oakland residents will be hosting parties -- over 500 of them. About 32,800 people are expected to attend Oakland's observances for the National Night Out, an evening dedicated to promoting crime prevention. This year, the city will host as many as 550 gatherings, the most ever in Oakland, said Felicia Verdin, community programs supervisor for the city.
Oakland officials didn't let the NFL lockout stand in the way of their plans to transform the city's gray and sagging Coliseum into a new stadium and entertainment district that some supporters are calling Oakland Live. The clock started ticking on the plans when Gov. Jerry Brown threatened to commandeer redevelopment money. But the pace really picked up when it looked like the NFL deal sealed this week could help deliver money for the project. The city had already begun to buy up land to "control the destiny" of the area, which is part of the Coliseum Redevelopment Project district, said Oakland City Councilmember Larry Reid.
The number of traffic citations dished out by the Police Department is down 18 percent from last year — and those handed out by officers in the traffic bureau dropped 44 percent from last year, according to police data comparing the first five months of 2011 to the same period in 2010. But how likely you are to get a ticket may also have to do with where you drive: Some of The City’s 11 police districts have had significant drops in how many tickets were given out. Meanwhile, others’ numbers are soaring.
A bill to allow California businesses to operate online poker gambling has made for strange bedfellows and split traditional alliances as some Indian tribes have allied in support of the bill with card-room owners, often their political foes, against other tribes. A million Californians per week already play online poker on sites that are operated overseas or may be run illegally, says state Sen. Lou Correa, D-Santa Ana. The sites operate despite a 2006 federal law that bars gambling businesses from taking and paying out money online, unless the bets are made and paid within a state that has laws regulating it. No state currently does.
If you buy a Blu-ray player from Amazon.com, a patio set from Overstock.com or a souvenir on your trip to Oregon, do you send California 7.25 percent of the purchase price since you weren't charged sales tax?...Many Californians ignore the "use tax" - the equivalent of sales tax but remitted by state residents for products bought from out-of-state retailers that did not collect sales tax. The state estimates that $1.1 billion in use tax goes uncollected every year. Cash-strapped California is eager to corral that big chunk of change, most notably through the "Amazon tax" bill that took effect in late June... Meanwhile, the state is pursuing other strategies to collect more use tax.
Safeway is reshaping neighborhoods throughout the Bay Area with its new "lifestyle" stores, but some residents in Oakland's upscale Rockridge area - and Berkeley, Albany and Burlingame - are saying no thanks, they have quite enough lifestyle already. The grocery giant, based in Pleasanton, is upgrading its stores throughout the region with cafes, smoothie kiosks, outdoor seating, natural light, new floors, rooftop gardens and wider aisles.. The Rockridge store...would more than double in square footage and include eight retail shops, a restaurant, an elevated walkway and other amenities. Hundreds of neighbors have signed petitions opposing the plan, mostly based on its scale and a fear that it will clog local streets with cars.
Barring last-minute action by Congress, many Bay Area home shoppers will soon find it harder to buy more expensive homes because of changes in eligibility requirements for a popular type of mortgage. Starting Oct. 1, interest rates on loans between $625,500 and $729,750 will increase, potentially raising monthly mortgage payments by hundreds of dollars. Before the change, loans up to $729,750 qualified for a reduced interest rate.
Michael Wardian had a "fantastic" 10-mile run Saturday in the Marin Headlands before he stopped in Mill Valley, a town he loves, for a burrito. By the time he drove back to his hotel in San Francisco, the euphoria of the day had worn off: He had severe food poisoning, and spent the rest of the day and night vomiting. But early Sunday morning, the 37-year-old elite runner from Arlington, Va., smiled as he crossed the finish line and won the San Francisco Marathon, coming in unofficially at 2 hours, 27 minutes and 6 seconds - more than 7 minutes ahead of the second-place finisher.