Friday, February 18, 2011

Friday Must Read: Oakland Agrees to Pay Rapper $300,000; IRS Treats Harborside as a Drug Trafficker

By Robert Gammon
Fri, Feb 18, 2011 at 7:10 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. The Oakland City Council has agreed to pay $300,000 to rapper Lorenzo Hall, who alleged that an Oakland police officer planted a gun on him and caused him to spend two years in jail, the Chron reports. Oakland police officer Ramon Alcantar had claimed that he found a gun in Hall’s “waistband,” but a jury last year ruled in favor of Hall and awarded him $175,000. The Oakland City Council voted 5-3 in a closed-door session to not appeal the ruling and pay the judgment, along with Hall’s attorney and court fees. Alcantar has since retired from the force.

2. The IRS is treating Oakland’s Harborside Health Center, the largest medical cannabis dispensary in California with $22 million in sales last year, as an illegal drug trafficker, the SacBee reports. Harborside operator Steven DeAngelo told the paper that the IRS is auditing the dispensary for compliance under the tax code concerning “expenditures in connection with the illegal sale of drugs.” DeAngelo and other dispensary owners contend that they should be able to deduct expenses like any other legitimate business, but the IRS disagrees. If the IRS prevails, the resulting high taxes could force pot clubs to close.

3. PG&E indicated yesterday that it may seek to pass along some of the costs from its deadly San Bruno pipeline disaster to its customers, the Chron reports. The utility now estimates that its total costs from the blast will reach at least $763 million. A PG&E executive said yesterday that the utility might attempt to pass along the costs of having to conduct thorough pipeline inspections. But consumer advocates contend that PG&E has been negligent for not conducting the tests in the past. Federal investigators also have criticized PG&E for its lax testing procedures.

4. Democrats in the Assembly are not going along with some of Governor Brown’s proposal to slash healthcare and social services, the SacBee reports. The legislators are saying no to Brown’s plan to cap doctor visits and prescription-drug costs for MediCal patients, and they will reject the governor’s plan to reduce in-home support services for the disabled. The Express reported this week that disability rights groups contend the governor’s planned cuts would force disabled people into institutions.

5. The Alameda City Council plans to interview six finalists for its vacant city manager position this Saturday, the Alameda Journal reported. The council also agreed earlier this week to seek input from the community, city staff, and union representatives. Alameda Mayor Marie Gilmore and Vice Mayor Rob Bonta are overseeing the search effort. Some island residents are concerned that Gilmore, Bonta, and Councilwoman Lena Tam intend to assert more authority over the city.

6. BART will open its new $106 million West Dublin/Pleasanton station tomorrow, the Chron and CoCo Times report.

7. And CalTrans to plans to install a new detour on the Bay Bridge this May as part of its plans to open a new eastern span by 2013, the Chron and CoCo Times report.

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