Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Wednesday Must Read

By Robert Gammon
Wed, Jun 23, 2010 at 7:07 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums unveiled his budget plan yesterday, calling for the elimination of eighty police positions unless cops agree to start contributing toward their pensions like other city employees. Dellums’ proposal also depends on voters approving a change to Measure Y and okaying a November parcel tax or other tax measures that could generate an additional $50 million a year for the city. If voters don’t, then the number of police layoffs would top 200. The plan by Dellums, who has come under media criticism for not playing a more public role in the city’s budget crisis, came just two days before the city council is to vote on the budget and is similar to a proposal released Monday by four council members.

2. A friend of Oscar Grant who was next to him when he was killed testified that then-BART cop Johannes Mehserle became frustrated just before the fatal shooting and then said: “Fuck this,” and stood up and shot Grant in the back, the Chron reports. The friend, Jackie Bryson, was called to the stand by Mehserle’s lawyer Michael Rains, who then attempted to portray Bryson as a liar who was trying to get Mehserle convicted of murder. However, Bryson also substantiated earlier testimony by ex-BART cop Anthony Pirone, who said that Mehserle warned Grant prior to the fatal shooting that he was going to Tase him. Mehserle claims he meant to pull out his Taser, but mistakenly grabbed his gun instead.

3. Measure E, the Alameda schools parcel tax, appears to have fallen short of the two-thirds vote required to pass. According to the Alameda County Registrar of Voters, the mail-in-ballot measure garnered 65.4 percent of the vote. However, the registrar still has some late-arriving ballots to count, the Trib and Chron report.

4. The City of Alameda, meanwhile, is also facing an unfunded pension crisis, independent journalist Michele Ellson reports for Bay Citizen. Like Oakland, Alameda cops can retire at age 50 and receive nearly full annual pay for the rest of their lives.

5. An oil-company-sponsored ballot measure that would suspend California’s landmark climate-change law qualified for the November ballot, the Trib reports. The proposition is being bankrolled by Texas oil companies, Valero and Tesoro.

6. Apple announced that it has sold three million iPads since releasing them this spring, the Mercury News reports. And Bloomberg reports that the new iPhone will be available from Verizon next year, along with longtime Apple partner AT&T, which has endured criticism for spotty cell phone coverage.

7. And some trails in California’s Gold Rush country are poisoned with toxic lead, arsenic, and asbestos left over from old mines that were never cleaned up, the Chron reports, citing a new environmental study.

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