Stories you shouldn’t miss:
1. Outgoing Oakland Police Chief Anthony Batts announced his resignation just days after the city received a scathing report from court monitors overseeing the police department, the Chron reports. The report by the monitors, who are all veteran law enforcement officials, criticized OPD for “backsliding” in implementing mandated reforms. The monitors also appeared to pin blame on Batts, stating that “it is ultimately the leadership of the department that must be the impetus for reform and public confidence.” During his two years in Oakland, Batts has made very little progress in implementing the reforms that grew out of the Riders’ case.as the department’s interim chief today, the Trib reports. Jordan, an OPD veteran, previously served as interim chief in 2009 after ex-Chief Wayne Tucker resigned and before then-Mayor Ron Dellums hired Batts.
3. A US attorney in Southern California plans to go after newspapers, radio stations, and other media outlets that take ads from medical marijuana dispensaries, California Watch reports. US Attorney Laura Duffy, whose district includes San Diego and Imperial counties, said she will specifically target any media outlet that publishes ads that promote the sale of medical pot. Duffy’s announcement comes at a time when the Obama Justice Department is increasingly targeting medical cannabis dispensaries, however, it’s unclear whether the US attorney for Northern California will also go after media outlets.
4. California Democrats are slamming the Obama administration for its failure to help middle and lower-income homeowners who are underwater on their mortgages, the Chron reports. The Dems note that many economists agree that the nation’s economy will not recover until the housing crisis eases. Yet banks are refusing to help homeowners who are in trouble and may go into foreclosure, and the Obama administration is refusing to do anything about it.
5. Amazon.com’s attempts to pass a national law that would exempt it from having to collect sales taxes appears to be in trouble, because a new bipartisan bill in Congress would give states more power to force online retailers to charge sales tax. The Trib reports that Bay Area Congresswoman Jackie Speier has co-authored the bill with a Republican from Arkansas, and it would allow states to force Amazon.com to collect sales taxes even in states where it has no physical presence.
6. Right-wing Christian groups who want to overturn a new state law that requires schools to teach kids about the accomplishments of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered, and disabled people failed to gather enough signatures for their ballot measure, the Chron reports. However, the groups are expected to try again for the November 2012 election.
7. The Metropolitan Transportation Commission voted 8-6 to purchase a giant, old warehouse in San Francisco for $93 million, the CoCo Times reports. MTC plans to leave Oakland and move into the building after renovating it. The agency also plans to share it with other regional agencies and rent out a substantial portion of it to private interests — a move that some critics contend may be illegal.
8. And the City of Berkeley may consider banning plastic bags in the wake of a recent state Supreme Court decision that upheld a plastic bag ban in Manhattan Beach, the Berkeley Voice reports. In addition, the Alameda County Waste Management Authority is putting together a new plan that may allow other East Bay cities to ban plastic bags as well.