Stories you shouldn’t miss:
1. The Oakland Police Department has altered its community policing structure, assigning more officers to high-crime areas and reducing the number of cops serving low-crime neighborhoods, the Trib reports. Under the old community policing model funded by Measure Y, each of the city’s 57 police beats received its own problem solving officer. But that set-up frustrated police brass, who contended that high-crime areas in West and East Oakland needed more help. Now, with the size of the police force reduced substantially because of budget cuts, along with the November passage of Measure BB, the department has changed community policing so that high-crime areas get more cops. The move, however, is angering neighborhood leaders in wealthy low-crime areas, such as Rockridge and Montclair, because they still want their own community policing officers.
2. Governor Jerry Brown is declaring a statewide fiscal emergency as he attempts to get the state Legislature to approve his proposed budget by March 1, the LA Times reports. In addition, California Watch today has a nice summary of the
hypocrisies ironies in Brown’s proposal to eliminate redevelopment agencies.
3. The family of a slain East Bay man has sued the state and ex-Governor Schwarzenegger for commuting the sentence of the son of former Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez, the Chron reports. The family of Luis Santos of Concord claims that Schwarzenegger violated the rights of victims’ families under Marsy’s Law when he reduced the sentence of Esteban Nunez from sixteen years in prison to seven. But legal experts say the suit is likely going nowhere because Marsy’s Law concerns sentencing — not commutations by governors.
4. An Oakland second-grade teacher was placed on administrative leave after students reportedly had oral sex during class, the Trib reports. The teacher at Markham Elementary School was in class at the time but said he was unaware of the alleged incident.
5. Two environmental groups sued the federal EPA yesterday for allegedly failing to prevent the pesticide poisonings of 200 endangered and threatened species, including the California condor, the Chron reports. The groups, Center for Biological Diversity and Pesticide Action Network North America, are especially concerned about the herbicide atrozine, which is banned in Europe. In addition, some scientists believe pesticides played a role in the recent collapse of honeybee colonies, along with mass bat and bird die-offs. The US Fish and Wildlife Service estimates that pesticides kill 72 million birds each year nationwide.
6. Existing home sales increased in December, both in the Bay Area and nationwide, the CoCo Times reports. However, home sales last year dropped overall compared to 2009, and nationwide, 2010 was the weakest year since 1997, AP reports. The CoCo Times also noted that despite the uptick in sales last month, the median home price in the Bay Area was $375,000, a decline of 1.3 percent from November and one year ago.
7. And Google announced that company co-founder Larry Page will take over as CEO, while longtime chief executive officer Eric Schmitt will become board chairman, the Chron reports. Hewlett Packard also announced the appointment of five new board directors, including former Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman.