Monday, April 11, 2011

Monday Must Read: Cal Men’s Gymnastics Raises $2 million; State Legislators Pile Up Car Accident Costs

By Robert Gammon
Mon, Apr 11, 2011 at 6:55 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. UC Berkeley’s men’s gymnastics, slated for elimination in June, may be reinstated now that alumni donors have raised nearly $2 million to keep the program going, KCBS reports. Late last week, the university announced that Cal baseball also is being reinstated after donors raised $9 million for the program. And earlier this year, fund-raising efforts saved men’s rugby, women’s gymnastics, and women’s lacrosse from the chopping block. The Cal men’s gymnastics team is currently ranked No. 3 in the nation and is headed for the national championships.

2. California legislators not only can’t balance a budget — they can’t drive either. The SacBee reported that state lawmakers crash their cars at a much higher rate than the national average — and it’s costing taxpayers plenty. During the past five years, California taxpayers have paid $768,000 in claims to lawmakers who crashed their state-issued cars. The California Citizen’s Compensation Commission is reviewing whether to revoke the only-in-California perk in which lawmakers receive a car, gas, and auto maintenance paid mostly by taxpayers.

3. Oakland Tribune reporter Josh Richman received a telephone death threat late last week while investigating a story about a former Your Black Muslim Bakery member, the Trib reports. While working on a story about allegations of real estate fraud against former bakery member Jamall Robinson, 25, also known as Aafiya Muhammad, Yasir Hakeem Azzem, and Jamal Bey, Richman received a call in which a man said: “If you write that story, you are going to end up like your friend Chauncey." Oakland journalist Chauncey Bailey, a former colleague of Richman’s, was murdered by a Your Black Muslim Bakery member while working on a story about the bakery’s financial troubles in 2007. Police are investigating the threat after interviewing Richman late Thursday.

4. Jerry Brown took his campaign for a special election on tax measures to Republican districts over the weekend, the Chron reports. The governor is hoping that police chiefs and district attorneys who support his plan will convince at least a few Republicans to vote for it. Many law enforcement officials are worried about their ability to fight crime if the legislature passes an all-cuts budget to solve the state’s $26 billion deficit problem.

5. The federal government averted a shutdown late Friday after Congressional Republicans dropped their demands to defund Planned Parenthood and the US Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to regulate greenhouse gases, the LA Times reported. Still, the GOP has reason to be happy after President Obama and Congressional Democrats agreed to $38 billion in budget cuts.

6. The sorry state of America’s broken health-care system was on full display at Oakland Coliseum over the weekend as thousands of people lined up before dawn to receive free medical and dental care. The Trib reports that the mass clinic put on by the Tennessee-based Remote Area Medical Care features numerous East Bay medical health providers and will continue through Tuesday.

7. And East Bay Regional Park District officials are attempting to control the population explosion of local geese by sterilizing the birds’ eggs, the CoCo Times reports.

Full disclosure: Trib reporter Josh Richman is a good friend of mine.

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