The Broad Brush: Your News in 60 Seconds

The Broad Brush: Your News in 60 Seconds

Michele Ellson

Welcome to this week's edition of The Broad Brush. Here are your headlines.

A court ruling that struck down portions of a 2008 Alameda school parcel tax has prompted fresh lawsuits against four school districts that won voter approval of school parcel taxes in November. Earlier this month, lawsuits were filed against the San Leandro, West Contra Costa and Davis school districts and a group of suburban Los Angeles districts alleging the districts violated state law by imposing taxes that charge different types of property owners different rates.

A severe flu epidemic that has dogged much of the nation has taken hold of California in recent weeks, though local public health officials said they are well prepared to handle additional flu cases and they urged people to get flu shots if they have not done so already.

Alameda’s City Council on Tuesday unanimously signed off on new park fees intended to foster more efficient use of Alameda’s sports fields and better recovery of the costs of users’ wear and tear on parks. Starting this fall, youth sports leagues will pay between $2 and $3 an hour for use of the city’s fields, with credit for any maintenance they perform; they now pay $5 per player with a $500 minimum. The city will also introduce new hourly fees for adult sports leagues with separate, flat fees for kickball leagues and a fee for the use of inflatable jumpers in parks.

The third time proved to be the charm for Tracy Jensen, who was appointed Wednesday to an open seat on the Alameda Health Care District Board. Jensen bested three other applicants for the seat, which Stewart Chen vacated after earning a two-year term on the City Council. Her new dais-mates voted 4-0 to select her to complete Chen’s hospital board term after ranking the candidates.

Camera flashes were popping in Alameda Police Chief Mike Noonan’s office, which was packed Wednesday afternoon with more than a dozen giddy teens and their adult chaperones. The group is visiting from Wuxi, China – one of Alameda’s sister cities – and their six-day Bay Area visit will include stops around Alameda and San Francisco and to at least one major university.

And the City Council will soon be hearing from tenants who are struggling with big rent increases at two Alameda properties. The increases forced one elderly couple to move out of their longtime home and have led a member of the city’s rent committee to question whether they might prompt efforts to seek formal rent control.

News in brief(er): Alameda Hospital added extra security after a contract employee who had been fired called and said he had bought a handgun and threatened to kill himself and other hospital employees. Police arrested the 49-year-old Oakland man, who they are not naming because their investigation is continuing, on January 23 … the Alameda Education Association has dropped its request that the state declare an impasse in contract negotiations and is scheduled to return to the bargaining table today … An Alameda gas station is one of 780 owned by BP and its subsidiaries being sued by California Attorney General Kamala Harris … And Bobby Sharp, songwriter who penned “Unchain My Heart,” has died. A memorial will be held on March 10 at Rhythmix.