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Crosscurrents

Daily news roundup for Wednesday, May 27, 2015

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 Activists Work to Stop East Bay Coal Exports // East Bay Express
 
"A coalition of environmentalists and city leaders is attempting to block a planned coal-exporting facility in Oakland and the export of coal through a terminal in Richmond.

"...Under the pending deal, a Utah state agency would invest $53 million in building the OBOT in exchange for the right to use nearly half the terminal's capacity to export products from four counties in Utah. "In our neighborhood, that means coal," said Malcolm Nash, economic development director of Sevier County, Utah."

Chief Justice Seeks Emergency Traffic Court Reform, Jerry Brown Pushes Amnesty Program // East Bay Express

"Traffic courts throughout California trap people in poverty with exorbitant fines and harsh policies that can make it very challenging for low-income people to resolve minor infractions — a problem I explored in-depth in a recent feature story, "The High Cost of Driving While Poor." In the wake of increased media scrutiny tied to a damningreport on traffic fines — co-authored by the East Bay Community Law Center and other California legal aid groups — state officials have proposed a number of solutions aimed at tackling some of the inequities of this legal system. 

"Last week, California Chief Justice TaniCantil-Sakauye announced that she is pushing for an "emergency action" that would help address one of the central concerns of critics — that the court system is often inaccessible to people who can't pay expensive fines upfront. Cantil-Sakauye's efforts come as Governor Jerry Brown, in his latest budget proposal, has continued his push for a so-called "amnesty program" that would reduce the amount of outstanding traffic court debts for some defendants."

South Bay woman charged with scamming Latino community // Mercury News

"A 44-year-old woman was in jail Tuesday on charges of stealing more than $250,000 from the South Bay Latino community by pocketing money she promised fruit pickers she would wire to Mexico and enticing other immigrants to invest in her foreign currency exchange.

"Leticia Ramona Gonzalez Sandoval is being held in lieu of $1 million bail after a complaint to Gilroy police from an alleged victim led to the discovery of 12 other victims. She was arrested and arraigned last week.

"Sandoval is charged with 14 criminal counts, including grand theft and securities fraud, Santa Clara County prosecutor Vishal Bathija said. If she is convicted, she would face a maximum of 20 years and four months in prison.

"'Predatory schemes like this that prey on immigrants, including migrant workers, are far too common and often go unreported,' Bathija said. 'We're so grateful to Gilroy police for gaining the trust of the community and investigating the case.'''
 
S.F. district bans out-of-towners at art high school // SF Gate

San Francisco will close borders to talented and artistic teens looking for a free and prestigious arts education at the city’s Ruth Asawa School of the Arts, a decision derided by many students, parents and teachers, yet unanimously approved by the school board Tuesday.

The decision ends the long-standing practice of allowing transfer students from other school districts to audition and gain admission to the high school, considered among the region’s most elite public art schools. The new policy will apply to admission for fall 2016. Current out-of-town students would be allowed to complete high school there, as well as those admitted for the incoming freshman class.

...Previous board policy restricted transfer students to 10 percent of the school’s enrollment. Currently, the 84 out-of-town students make up nearly 14 percent of enrollment across all art forms and nearly half of them are white. Several supportive speakers said many San Francisco students are talented, but don’t have classical training or need help with the audition process. Others lambasted the taxpayer money raised in San Francisco for the schools and then spent on the outsider students.

New Web Series Aims to Bring Urban Homesteading to a Mainstream Audience // East Bay Express

If you have any doubt that urban homesteading is hot in Oakland, all you have to do is take a quick survey of all the DIY workshops and retail stores dedicated to the arts of beekeeping, raising backyard chickens, preserving foods, and various and sundry permutations of what I think of as “advanced” gardening. These days, it seems as if every sustainability-minded urbanite fancies him or herself a farmer.

Now, the topic will be the focus of a new web series from the producers behind such well known educational programs as Bill Nye the Science Guy and Biz Kid$ (a PBS show that teaches pre-teens about entrepreneurship). Fresh off a successful crowdfunding campaign, The Urban Homesteader is tentatively slated to debut its first episodes in October 2015, with the eventual goal of becoming a full-fledged PBS television series.

Oh, and the show will be set — where else? — right here in Oakland.

Liza got her start in radio with KALW's Audio Academy. Now, she is KALW's econmy reporter and a mentor for in the KALW Audio Academy.