Oakland City Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan caught some flak from colleagues after she was a surprise no-show at Tuesday's City Council meeting. Kaplan was present at an earlier closed-door session, but missed the public proceedings to care for her partner who had just gotten into a traffic accident.
Kaplan's departure resulted in the council failing by one vote to replace Margaret Gordon on the Board of Port Commissioners. Gordon is a celebrated West Oakland environmental activist with strong support among some of the same African-American political leaders who backed Kaplan's 2010 mayoral campaign.
Kaplan's surprise absence Tuesday reignited suggestions from some colleagues -- who didn't know about the traffic accident -- that she prefers to avoid hot-button issues rather than cast a vote that could harm her standing with African-American leaders.
Kaplan last missed a council meeting in March when many African-American leaders spoke on behalf of Councilmember Desley Brooks who was facing a potential investigation into her operating a city-owned teen center. Kaplan's prior absence was last November when the council also was scheduled to vote on replacing Gordon.
Kaplan did vote last year to replace Gordon, but the council action was nullified because of a procedural violation.
Kaplan's spokesman Jason Overman said any suggestion that Kaplan avoids such controversial was "beyond bogus."
"She is there for incredibly controversial
Curfew violation knocked down to infraction in San Leandro
Kids violating curfew in the city will no longer be guilty of a misdemeanor.
On Monday, the City Council adopted an ordinance changing the violation from a misdemeanor to an infraction.
The fine for violating curfew is $50 for the first offense, $100 for the second and $200 for the third. However, first-time offenders now can do five hours of community service instead of paying the fine.
Parents of youngsters who break curfew three or more times can be ordered to attend a parenting class.
The council also added activities protected by the First Amendment to the exemptions allowing minors on city streets during curfew hours. Those include going to and from a speech, demonstration, a march or a rally, said Richard Pio Roda, San Leandro assistant city attorney.
Curfew is in force for anyone under age 18 from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. nightly and 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on school days. San Leandro has had a night curfew since 1982, and added the day curfew in 2010.
The curfew changes were made in response to a 2010 ruling by the Fourth District Court of Appeal in a lawsuit filed against San Diego, according to a staff report. The court held that San Diego's curfew law was partially invalid because it did not exempt activities protected by the First Amendment.
Fremont council hears update on new BART station
In a presentation this week to the Fremont City Council, BART representatives unveiled the proposed architectural design of the Warm Springs/South Fremont station and announced that the subway through Central Park is just about finished.
The one-mile subway is part of the 5.4-mile extension that will connect the existing Fremont BART station to the Warm Springs/South Fremont station. The new station is expected to open in 2015.
BART officials said they would mark the completion of the subway project with a celebration this fall, most likely in October.
"We're about 93 percent physically complete now," project manager Paul Medved said Tuesday. "The last of the subway sections was poured about a week and a half ago, and now it's down to just the ventilation structures and the transition structures and then putting the park back together."
As for the station itself, the proposal includes a glass rotunda in the front and art glass on a back wall that will feature work done by internationally renowned artist Catherine Widgery, who plans to incorporate images of Fremont in her project.
"The objective was to select something that was truly place-making, that was unique, that when you get out of the Fremont station, you know you are in Fremont," BART spokeswoman Molly McArthur said. "It will look completely different from any other BART station."
Oakland can cut ties with Goldman Sachs
It turns out Oakland can legally boycott Goldman Sachs, according to a recently published opinion from City Attorney Barbara Parker.
The City Council voted earlier this month to stop doing business with Goldman if the investment bank doesn't let the city get out of an investment that will cost it $4 million this year and millions more before it expires in 2021. At the time of the council vote, there was confusion as to whether a fresh legal opinion from Parker might limit the council's ability to exclude Goldman from city contracts.
Parker's opinion says that the city can bar Goldman for up to five years at a time, but it must go through a legal process, known as debarment, and make the required findings that the bank acted in such a matter that justifies the boycott. Grounds for debarment include submitting false information, fraud, embezzlement and making false claims.