Monday, October 20, 2014

Berkeley and San Francisco Propose Soda Tax Measures

This November, residents in Berkeley and San Francisco are considering whether to vote for local measures that would impose taxes on sodas and other sweetened drinks; this in an attempt to discourage the consumption of the high-calorie beverages that have been linked to obesity, diabetes, and other health problems. Scott Baba reports.

Governor Brown Pushes Water Policy, Prop 1 at Water Conference

Governor Jerry Brown says water will be a top priority of his next term as governor if he’s re-elected, and a top priority of the legislature for years to come. He made a pitch for his water bond, Prop 1 on the November ballot, at a water conference at Stanford University Monday. Christopher Martinez reports.

Friday, October 17, 2014

County Transit Tax Draws Support in Alameda County

A measure to expand Alameda County’s sales tax for transit is drawing support from environmental groups and unions, as well as chambers of commerce and even an anti-tax group. The support marks a big change from the last attempt to extend the county transit tax in 2012, when environmentalists and advocates for poor and disabled transit users with-held their support, largely because they wanted more support for bus service. That measure narrowly failed at the ballot. The new version of the tax measure includes more funding for mass transit, as well as bus passes for youths and seniors. Christopher Martinez reports from Oakland.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Nurses' Ebola Protest Draws Socialist Senator Bernie Sanders

Ebola has become a major issue in contract negotiations for nurses in California. Nurses in Oakland are locked in negotiations with Kaiser Permanente, where the nurses are seeking to include Ebola protections among the issues in their next contract. The nurses marched to Kaiser headquarters, with support from socialist senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont. They’re calling for more equipment and training for nurses who may be called on to treat Ebola patients. Christopher Martinez reports from Oakland.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Earthquake Early Warning

A State Senate committee has held a hearing on progress toward developing an earthquake early warning system. The 80-million dollar program is scheduled to go on-line in about two years, giving advance earthquake warnings that could be critical for hospitals, trains, utility companies, schools, and other vulnerable services and communities. Christopher Martinez reports from San Francisco.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Ebola Preparedness Discussed by Bay Area Health Providers

Bay Area hospitals and clinics are beefing up their plans for dealing with Ebola, the deadly hemorrhagic fever that has become an epidemic in West Africa. The disease claimed its first US victim in Dallas, where a nurse who treated him has also become infected. Congress member Eric Swalwell, representing eastern Alameda County, convened a meeting and conference call of health experts to discuss how to prepare for the disease. Christopher Martinez reports from the San Ramon Regional Medical Center.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Fracking Contamination Spurs Call for Moratorium on Fracking

Oil industry wastewater from fracking is being illegally dumped into central California aquifers, leading to contamination of well-water sites, according to state documents obtained by the Center for Biological Diversity. Environmental activists want the State to stop the controversial practice of fracking, saying it threatens drinking water and wastes precious water during the drought. Several communities will get a chance to vote on local fracking bans in the November elections. Christopher Martinez reports.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Fight the Oil Trains to Bakersfield

A coalition of environmental groups along with health and safety advocates has filed suit against the Kern County Board of Supervisors over a massive oil project. The board recently approved the opening of a previously closed refinery in conjunction with trainloads of crude oil imported from North Dakota and Canada. Derailments and explosions of trains containing oil from those regions have been increasing as production has ramped up. Opponents of the Bakersfield project say the Environmental Impact Report did not fully consider air pollution impacts or public safety concerns. Vic Bedoian reports from Fresno.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Peevey Resignation Pleases Critics of Utilities Commission

The embattled head of the California Public Utilities Commission has announced he’ll leave office at the end of his term in December. The announcement came Thursday morning, as State Senator Jerry Hill was announcing legislation to have commission president Michael Peevey removed from office for corruption and neglect of duty.
Christopher Martinez reports from San Francisco.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

FBI Surveillance Program Challenged in Federal Court

A Federal court in San Francisco has heard arguments in a lawsuit over FBI surveillance letters - secret demands for information about phone and Internet customers that by-pass normal court procedures. The warrantless surveillance demands include a gag order barring telecommunications companies from revealing they’ve even received a letter. Plaintiffs in the case say the letters violate the US Constitution. Christopher Martinez reports from San Francisco.