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Crosscurrents

Daily news roundup for Wednesday, October 28

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Flickr User cristiano valli
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A San Francisco Fire in 2011

Here's what's happening in the Bay Area, as curated by KALW news:

S.F. Fire Department Removes Chief Arson Investigator // KQED News

“The San Francisco Fire Department has removed the head of its arson task force after he voiced repeated public complaints that the unit was understaffed and overwhelmed by hundreds of uncompleted investigations.

“The department confirms that acting Capt. John Darmanin was reassigned, but declined to comment on why the change was made.

“Darmanin said in an interview that he’s being punished for speaking out about staffing problems he says have led to a growing backlog of incomplete arson investigations. Darmanin said the backlog — which the department acknowledged earlier this year included about 300 cases dating back to 2010 — has grown to about 400 incidents.”

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Allegations of voter fraud in Chinatown surface — again // SF Chronicle

“The San Francisco district attorney’s office is investigating allegations of voter fraud in low-income housing operated by the Chinatown Community Development Center.

“The Asian Pacific Democratic Club last week filed a complaint with the city’s Department of Elections after hearing several accounts from elderly Chinese voters about having their ballots taken by a pair of women who support former Supervisor Aaron Peskin in his campaign to unseat Supervisor Julie Christensen. The Asian Pacific Democratic Club has endorsed Christensen.”

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Falling highways: California roads crumble as tax fight wears on // Bay Area News Group

“Years before last week's frightening collapse of an Interstate 880 overpass guardrail and chain-link fence onto evening rush-hour commuters, the state had declared the overcrossing outdated and dangerous.

“But the $105 million project to replace it and an overcrossing just to the south has been slow to materialize, representative of the estimated $57 billion worth of backlogged state highway repairs and replacements that has become a subject of partisan impasse in the state Capitol.

“The 23rd Avenue overcrossing was built in 1947 and looks its age. Construction of its replacement, planned since 2009, is expected to begin next year as a contractor finishes rebuilding the 29th Avenue crossing.”

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Oakland's Sweeping Plan for Parking // East Bay Express

“When Shifra de Benedictis-Kessner joined the Downtown Berkeley Association in 2011, one of the most important challenges to tackle was parking. ‘People just couldn't find spots in the core around BART,’ she said. ‘The perception in downtown Berkeley was that parking was awful.’ The association subsequently partnered with the city to overhaul parking downtown — by raising meter prices on the most popular streets where it was impossible to find a spot and lowering the rates in areas that typically had a high number of available spaces….

“Oakland's mayor's office is now proposing the same concept for commercial districts throughout the city, including Temescal, with the hopes of boosting small businesses by making it much easier for drivers to find parking in busy retail corridors.”

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Oracle to build high school on its Silicon Valley campus // Associated Press

“Oracle founder Larry Ellison already owns an island in Hawaii. Now, his company is building a high school next to its Silicon Valley headquarters to help fulfill Ellison's desire to teach students more about technology and problem-solving.

“The plan unveiled Tuesday at an Oracle customer conference calls for the business software maker to complete the 64,000-square-foot school by August 2017.

“The public school, called Design Tech, will accommodate up to 550 students and 30 teachers in the shadow of Oracle's towering office in Redwood City. The school will be free and open to any student living in California.”

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Sacramento RT adopts new rules, without 'noxious odor' portion // KCRA News

“The Regional Transit Board of Directors passed new rules Monday night meant to attract riders and improve its service but decided against the controversial rule to rid trains and buses of smelly riders.

“The proposed rule would've allowed RT to remove those who emanate a ‘noxious odor from the body, clothing or possessions that discomforts other passengers, unless the odor relates to a disability or medical condition.’”