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OP-ED: PG&E Should be Fined But Not Forced into Bankruptcy by

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By Wil Hardee

PG&E is about to receive a hefty fine for their role in the San Bruno tragedy – and it should. The Oakland African American Chamber of Commerce believes PG&E should pay. However, we also believe the men and women who benefit from the company, as a job creator, economic engine and supporter of diversity and inclusion in the work place, shouldn’t pay the price too.

PG&E may reportedly be fined up to $2.25 billion and if it is forced to pay that much, we should assume the company won’t be able to pay for the billions of dollars it is investing to improve crucial infrastructure.

In fact, it has been reported that PG&E may have to file for bankruptcy if the fine is so high. The money that goes to make infrastructure improvements – the jobs they create and the revenue they generate – is money East Bay businesses big and small can’t afford to see go away.

Additionally, if PG&E can no longer afford to invest in our communities, we will lose a partner with a proven track record of supporting diversity. The company was ranked as the top regional utility for diversity efforts in 2012 and is among the top ten companies in the entire nation when it comes to supplier diversity, according to Diversity Inc. We need companies like that to remain on sound fiscal ground.

The CPUC should recognize that a fine of $2.25 billion would be 40 times that of any similar fine in our nation’s history – and that seems excessive. Perhaps if the agency realizes that it is not just PG&E who will pay a price, it will reconsider that figure.

PG&E should be fined and forced to pay help San Bruno rebuild and recover and to ensure that such a tragedy never happens again. Let’s make sure the fine it receives does not imperil its ability to improve our infrastructure, create jobs, spark local economic activity and foster diversity and inclusion in the work place.

Wil Hardee

Wil Hardee

Wil Hardee is president & CEO, Oakland African-American Chamber of Commerce

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Activism

EDITORIAL: If the City Council Won’t Vote for You, Don’t Vote for Them

District 5 Councilmember Noel Gallo has heard the demands of Oakland voters and he is scheduling a hearing before the Council to place public spending on the ballot. We urge the Council to act. If they do not, we urge the voters to ask themselves “If Councilmembers do not support our right to vote, why should we vote for them?”

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Paul Cobb is the Publisher of the Post Newgroup family of publications and websites.
Paul Cobb is the Publisher of the Post Newgroup family of publications and websites.

By Paul Cobb, Publisher, Post Newsgroup

The voters of Oakland demand the right to vote on whether the City of Oakland should spend a billion dollars of public money on a privately owned baseball stadium and luxury condominiums at Howard Terminal.

We agree.

If City Councilmembers want the voters to support them in upcoming elections, they must support the voters’ demand for a public vote on Howard Terminal now.

In an April 6, 2022 poll of 800 registered voters, 76% said they want to vote on whether the City Council should spend public funds on Oakland A’s privately owned baseball stadium and luxury condominium complex.

District 3 Councilmember Carroll Fife followed that poll with a Town Hall meeting where the vast majority of attendees voiced their support for a ballot measure and demanded that the City Council place the issue of public spending before the voters.

As of this writing, thousands of voters have delivered petitions demanding the right to vote and we are told thousands more petitions are on the way.

District 5 Councilmember Noel Gallo has heard the demands of Oakland voters and he is scheduling a hearing before the Council to place public spending on the ballot. We urge the Council to act. If they do not, we urge the voters to ask themselves “If Councilmembers do not support our right to vote, why should we vote for them?”

Oakland faces many crises including homelessness, public safety, school closures, and the loss of existing union jobs at Howard Terminal.

Homelessness is such an urgent crisis that the City Council declared a local emergency just this week. How can we even consider spending public funds on a baseball stadium and luxury condos in these times of crisis? The voters demand a right to be heard and the City Council has a moral and ethical obligation to place the matter on the ballot.

We are told that there are two major obstacles to a vote. The A’s say that if they don’t get their way they will take to the highway and leave, and Oakland will lose its last sports team. With people dying on the streets and crime at an all-time high, and since the A’s, who are co-owners of the Coliseum, have not signed a cooperation agreement with the new community-based ownership group that wants to launch a fast-track housing and jobs redevelopment plan for the very low-income residents and homeless population — who now live in the shadow of the Coliseum – it’s no wonder that some city and county taxpayers give a care if the A’s threaten to leave.

And the number of homeless dwellers now exceed the number of fans who attend the games. When you poll those barely surviving with their monthly general assistance checks from Alameda County, which is selling its half-ownership interest in the Coliseum to the A’s, then it’s no wonder that some city and county taxpayers give a care if the A’s threaten to leave: They want the county’s equity stake to help build truly affordable housing now.

When the City Council voted unanimously to support the Black-led group’s proposed redevelopment, they didn’t intend for the A’s or any other group to be in a position to hold the neighborhood hostage as a bargaining chip.

Therefore, the entire Council should vote to place the financing of A’s future stadium plans on the November ballot and require the A’s to sign a cooperation agreement with the East Oakland group.

Trade unions say their members will get a lot of jobs building a new stadium and luxury condos. They could have the same jobs, without the huge costs and public spending, if a stadium and housing were built at the Coliseum by a baseball team that truly cared about Oakland.

Many residents and organizations have asked the Post to host Town Hall meetings to help hold our officials accountable for the costs of the new stadium.

We will publish articles on how to link the future housing relief for homeless as a requirement for the A’s to get the approval of Howard Terminal and why the original injunction was filed by the city attorney.

The voters of Oakland hold the key. They should send a clear and unequivocal message to the Council: “Support our right to vote on public spending or don’t expect us to vote for you.”

We urge voters to contact your Councilmembers and demand they vote to place public spending on the November 2022 ballot.

Please send an email to council@oaklandca.gov. With one click, every councilmember and their staffs will get your message.

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Bay Area

Water Expert: Make Conservation a Family Project as California Drought Gets Worse

Following state official calls for water use reduction last year, Californians’ water use increased by about 19% this year, according to the governor’s office. “Californians made significant changes since the last drought, but we’ve seen an uptick in water use. We have to make every drop count,” said Governor Gavin Newsom.

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iStock Photo.
iStock Photo.

By Aldon Thomas Stiles, California Black Media

African American water experts are joining state officials calling on Californians to conserve as much water as possible in preparation for an abnormally dry summer ahead.

California is in year three of a drought that scientists have called the driest in the history of the state.

“Look at your usage. Make it a family project,” said Dale Hunter, a respected African American water expert in Sacramento.

Last week, the State Water Resources Control Board voted to ban the watering of “non-functional” turf to combat California’s drought as state officials estimate that water supplies may decrease by 20% due to rising heat.

This statewide ban will apply to the commercial, industrial and institutional sectors.

“California is facing a drought crisis and every local water agency and Californian needs to step up on conservation efforts,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a statement. “I am hopeful the measures enacted by the State Water Board will lead to a reduction of water use across the state.”

Hunter says conservation is urgent.

“This is the state saying, ‘folks this is serious. We are encouraging all locals to come up with a conservation plan,’” he added.

Following state official calls for water use reduction last year, Californians’ water use increased by about 19% this year, according to the governor’s office.

“Californians made significant changes since the last drought, but we’ve seen an uptick in water use. We have to make every drop count,” Newsom said.

Some experts believe that one of the reasons for the increase in water usage was the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We were in a pandemic where most people stayed home so naturally water use went up during that period,” Hunter explained.

The State Water Resources Control Board’s vote to restrict water usage includes requirements for local agencies to implement their own conservation measures.

Hunter said because some communities have different water needs than others, they may be affected by the drought differently. According to him people living in mostly Black neighborhoods should be aware of what their local conservation plans are — as well as what the ramifications are for not following them.

“Stay informed because water conservation, in order to be effective, is a local issue,” he said. “Local agencies all have different ways to cut back. You can reduce watering your grass, you can reduce the washing machine and dish washing.”

“What they do in Riverside they may not do in San Jose,” Hunter added.

In San Jose, for example, the Santa Clara Valley Water District will implement water use fines that can go as high as $10,000 for people who go over their water use limit.

“Some may not do that,” Hunter said. “Some agencies may keep encouraging people before they go down the more drastic route, which would include fines.”

Hunter believes that individual solutions for water use reduction will become clearer in the coming weeks.

“I believe that we’re going to see the local agencies, over the next couple of weeks, really ramp up their promotion and advertising about what individual homeowners can do.”

Hunter compared the current drought to the dry conditions the state has been experiencing over the last two years.

“The drought the last couple of years wasn’t even, meaning some parts of our state were dryer than others. I think this round it’s dry up and down the state,” Hunter said.

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Bay Area

40-Plus Miles of Pavement Preservation to Begin

Improving roadway conditions across unincorporated areas of Marin has been an ongoing commitment of the County for years and is one of the top priorities for the Board of Supervisors. Each year, DPW aims to improve a balance of local, arterial and collector roads, approaching the selection strategically with a long-term goal of overall network improvement.

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Preventative maintenance helps extend the useful life of pavement and can delay when a street needs to be repaved, avoiding expensive and disruptive rehabilitation projects. This image shows work completed last year on Atherton Avenue in eastern Novato.
Preventative maintenance helps extend the useful life of pavement and can delay when a street needs to be repaved, avoiding expensive and disruptive rehabilitation projects. This image shows work completed last year on Atherton Avenue in eastern Novato.

$3 million dollar project will provide maintenance for about 10% of county roads

Courtesy of Marin County

The Marin County Department of Public Works (DPW) will begin a road sealant project in late summer, conducting preventative maintenance on over 40 miles of roads in unincorporated areas of Marin, which accounts for approximately 10% of the county-maintained road network.

The project will address various roadways in Lucas Valley, Marinwood, Santa Venetia, Greenbrae, Kentfield, Strawberry, Tamalpais, Hicks Valley, Nicasio, Point Reyes, San Geronimo Valley and unincorporated San Rafael. The estimated $3 million project is funded by the County’s Road and Bridge Rehabilitation fund.

Preliminary site work and pavement sealing of non-residential roads is anticipated to begin in early June. The sealing of residential roads is scheduled to start in August and anticipated to be completed by November 2022. However, work may be delayed by wet weather.

Construction is expected to take place from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and will require traffic control measures. This will include lane closures with up to 10-minute delays. Depending on location, work may sometimes need to be done on weekends. There will also be residential road closures of up to seven hours when required on weekdays. The targeted roads will not be worked on simultaneously, but instead will be staggered in strategic groups to complete the work more efficiently.

For residential areas, schedule information will be provided seven days in advance and again by door hanger 24 hours ahead of any road closures. Roadway signage will be in place 72 hours in advance of any lane closures that will impact traffic.

Some non-residential roads that have tight curves or substantial tree cover, such as Lucas Valley Road from Big Rock to Nicasio, will also require short term road closures. Such situations will be publicized in advance on DPW’s social media profiles, as well as via on-site message boards and letters to directly impacted residents.

Preventative maintenance helps extend the useful life of pavement and can delay when a street needs to be repaved, avoiding expensive and disruptive rehabilitation projects. This proactive approach calls for keeping good roads in good condition, rather than allowing them to fully deteriorate through their lifecycle.

“Deteriorating roadways have become a nationwide challenge and waiting to replace failed pavement results in tremendously expensive and disruptive projects,” said Eric Miller, Assistant Director of DPW. “In Marin, we are focusing on cost-effective, sustainable pavement preservation work to help incrementally improve our overall pavement condition while also striving to keep our maintenance backlog from increasing.”

Relative to major rehabilitation or reconstruction, there are various preservation treatments that can be applied to a road segment quickly and for a fraction of the cost, making them an inherently sustainable activity and a financially responsible option. The work often utilizes low environmental impact treatments to prolong the life of the pavement. Compared to major rehabilitation activities, pavement preservation requires significantly less energy and mined materials, thereby reducing greenhouse gas emissions over time.

Improving roadway conditions across unincorporated areas of Marin has been an ongoing commitment of the County for years and is one of the top priorities for the Board of Supervisors. Each year, DPW aims to improve a balance of local, arterial and collector roads, approaching the selection strategically with a long-term goal of overall network improvement.

For example, during the 2021 paving season, DPW completed the $1.6 million Lucas Valley Road curve realignment project, a $1.6 million roadway rehabilitation project in northern Marin’s Upper Lucas Valley area, two sets of preventative maintenance projects across unincorporated Marin (one for 19.6 miles and one for 9.5 miles), various roadway improvements in the Loma Verde area of unincorporated Novato, pavement work on Redwood Highway Frontage Road in Strawberry, and extensive repairs to Fairfax Bolinas Road in West Marin. Also, DPW recently completed the $18 million Sir Francis Drake Boulevard rehabilitation project, titled Upgrade The Drake, improving public safety along 2.2 miles of the heavily used roadway for the first time in over 25 years.

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