Monday, December 6, 2010

Monday Must Read: Obama Administration Says Oakland Pot Farms Are Illegal; Oakland Cops Still Refuse to Pay Pensions

By Robert Gammon
Mon, Dec 6, 2010 at 6:50 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. The Obama Justice Department has warned the City of Oakland that its plan to tax and regulate four large medical cannabis farms early next year is illegal, California Watch reports, citing anonymous sources. The Justice Department says that because the farms will be separate business entities from medical marijuana dispensaries, then the required direct link between patients and cultivators will be broken. The city, however, is setting up the farms that way so it can tax them. Oakland City Attorney John Russo, a medical cannabis supporter, has also expressed concerns that the pot farms will be illegal.

2. The Oakland police union is still refusing to pay into pension plans, saying that it doesn’t “trust” City Hall to hire more cops from the money it will save, the Chron reports. The union’s hard-line stance comes as the department continues to lose officers through attrition and follows the city council’s decision to lay off eighty officers in July because of the union’s refusal to contribute to retirement plans. Mayor-elect Jean Quan has said that she will hire more officers if cops agree to start paying 9 percent of their pensions — just like all other city employees do.

3. Governor Schwarzenegger plans to propose a series of “ugly” cuts to the state Legislature in the lame-duck special session in an effort to close a $6 billion budget gap this year, AP reports. The Mercury News reports that the state’s budget mess could further devastate California public schools. But the LA Times reports that the Democrat-controlled Legislature plans to ignore Schwarzenegger’s proposal and will wait to deal with the deficit problem until after Governor-elect Jerry Brown takes office in January.

4. The federal appeals hearing on Proposition 8 will be televised this morning at 10 on C-SPAN, the LA Times notes. The hearing will feature two parts. First, it will concentrate on whether opponents of gay marriage have legal standing to appeal a lower court ruling that overturned Prop 8. And then the hearing will focus on the whether banning same-sex nuptials violates the US Constitution.

5. Democrats and Republicans in the US Senate are close to reaching a budget deal that would extend the Bush tax cuts for everyone in exchange for continuing jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed, the LA Times reports. The proposed compromise deal comes after Senate Republicans on Saturday blocked legislation that would have given tax breaks to middle and lower-income Americans, and allowed the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy to expire. The proposed compromise deal also promises to further deepen the nation's budget deficit.

6. A Los Angeles judge denied bail to Johannes Mehserle, saying the ex-BART cop who killed train-rider Oscar Grant likely will not win an appeal of his involuntary manslaughter conviction, the Trib reports. The ruling means Mehserle will have to serve his prison sentence while his appeal moves through the courts.

7. And Facebook announced yesterday that it’s offering a new interface that will allow users to further personalize their homepages and add more photos, AP reports.

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