- Central Subway funds get a key OK (SF Chronicle)
...In Washington for the U.S. Conference of Mayors annual meeting, where he met with Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, (San Francisco Mayor) Lee said the city has received a "letter of non prejudice" from the Department of Transportation that will allow the city to proceed with one of the largest phases of the $1.6 billion subway - to dig a tunnel under Stockton and Fourth streets, from the downtown Caltrain station to Chinatown.
- More layoff notices, job cuts than Oakland expected (SF Chronicle)
Oakland issued layoff notices to far more employees than originally anticipated Wednesday as the city braced for the expected loss of up to $30 million in redevelopment funds. The city also said more people than expected - up to 400 - will lose their jobs.
- California Supreme Court to weigh in on medical marijuana laws (SJ Mercury News)
The California Supreme Court has jumped into the fray again over the legality of medical marijuana laws, deciding on Wednesday to review two lower court rulings that impact how and whether local governments can regulate pot dispensaries across the state. In their weekly closed-door session, the justices voted unanimously to review cases out of Long Beach and Riverside that dealt with the ongoing conflict between California's voter-approved law allowing the use of medical marijuana and federal laws barring the use or sale of the drug. The state Supreme Court's rulings in the cases are likely to have a widespread impact in the Bay Area, where cities from San Jose to Oakland have regulations dealing with medical marijuana providers.
- In Fight Over Piracy Bills, New Economy Rises Against Old (NY Times)
When the powerful world of old media mobilized to win passage of an online antipiracy bill, it marshaled the reliable giants of K Street — the United States Chamber of Commerce, the Recording Industry Association of America and, of course, the motion picture lobby, with its new chairman, former Senator Christopher J. Dodd, the Connecticut Democrat and an insider’s insider. Yet on Wednesday this formidable old guard was forced to make way for the new as Web powerhouses backed by Internet activists rallied opposition to the legislation through Internet blackouts and cascading criticism, sending an unmistakable message to lawmakers grappling with new media issues: Don’t mess with the Internet.
...(D)uring his State of the State address in the Assembly chamber, he gave a glimpse of his idealistic, visionary side, providing a full-throated defense of California's high-speed rail plan despite the pummeling it's taken in recent months. Brown took on critics in his most forceful language to date, noting that naysayers have been wrong about some of the great infrastructure projects of the past.
Oakland Mayor Jean Quan has gone from two deputy mayors to none. Nearly two months after Deputy Mayor Sharon Cornu left Quan's administration, Lewis Cohen resigned effective Jan 1, due to unspecified health reasons. Cohen could not be reached for comment.
Thousands of anti-abortion activists are expected to come from all over the West Coast this weekend to take part in rallies in Oakland and San Francisco. The annual Standing Up 4 Life Walk is scheduled to begin at noon Friday at Frank H. Ogawa Plaza in Oakland. On Saturday, organizers say they hope more than 50,000 people will attend the Walk for Life West Coast event in San Francisco, which will begin with a rally from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. at Civic Center Plaza and continue with a march down Market Street to Justin Herman Plaza.
Bay Area air pollution officials say something smells fishy about a decision by the city of San Francisco to sharply reduce its estimates of the numbers of spectator boats that will fill San Francisco Bay during America’s Cup racing events this year and next. The city originally forecast that as many as 1,833 spectator boats would take to the bay during the America’s Cup World Series events in August and September this year. It also projected that 2,200 spectator boats would fill the bay during the higher-profile races in 2013. But in a revised estimate released last month, the city now expects just 330 spectator boats in 2012 and 800 in 2013. It also reduced expectations for the number of cruise ships and race support boats in the bay.
The team's contract at the O.co Coliseum in Oakland expires at the end of the 2013 season. Even if Major League Baseball decides to grant the wish of A's co-owner Lew Wolff to move the team to San Jose, they won't have a ballpark to play in for several years. That means the A's will be in Oakland until at least 2015 -- if not much longer -- giving the city and county a bargaining chip when they start talking about extending the Coliseum contract.
After days of making national news, Sonoma city leaders on Wednesday backed away from enacting a temporary ban on chain stores, a move some saw as a way of protecting the town's character and others likened to shutting out economic development. The city for months has been embroiled in controversy over efforts to regulate “formula businesses.” But the debate reached a new level last week when it was reported that retail giant Williams-Sonoma wanted to open a store on Broadway where Charles Williams got his start in 1956, but might be prevented as a result of those rules.