Thursday, October 20, 2011

Thursday Must Read: BART to Kill Cellphones Only in Extraordinary Circumstances; Supreme Court to Take Up Redevelopment Soon

By Robert Gammon
Thu, Oct 20, 2011 at 10:27 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. The BART board of directors plans to vote on a proposal that the agency only kill cellphone service in “extraordinary” circumstances, the CoCo Times reports. Examples include when BART has evidence that cellphones are to be used to detonate explosives or in hostage situations. The new policy, as a result, effectively repudiates BART’s decision to shutdown cell service in August in order to disrupt a protest. That cellphone shutdown prompted even more protests and drew intense criticism. Under the proposed policy, the agency would not kill cellphones in such circumstances.

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2. The California Supreme Court will take up Governor Brown’s plan to kill redevelopment in the state on November 8, the Mercury News reports. Cities sued Brown over his proposal, contending that it violates a voter-approved initiative. If Brown prevails, it could have devastating impacts on city finances throughout the state, particularly in Oakland, which depends heavily on redevelopment funds. If cities prevail, the state’s budget deficit will deepen.

3. A newly released secret report from the state Department of Justice concluded that colleagues of Oakland police Sergeant Derwin Longmire, the lead investigator in the murder of journalist Chauncey Bailey, believed that Longmire was essentially incompetent, the Chauncey Bailey Project reports. The report, which was released in a federal case stemming from a lawsuit that Longmire filed against the City of Oakland and current Interim Police Chief Howard Jordan, also raised serious questions as to whether Longmire purposely protected his friend Yusuf Bey IV during the investigation. Bey IV was later convicted of first-degree murder for ordering Bailey’s assassination.

4. The Bay Area could be sitting on top of hundreds of miles of defective natural gas pipeline because there is evidence that PG&E routinely used “salvaged or junked” pipes when it built its system in the 1940s and 1950s, the Chron reports. The revelation by state regulators follows a determination by federal inspectors that PG&E was at fault for the San Bruno disaster in part because it used old, salvaged pipe in the gas line that exploded and killed eight people.

5. And rents in the Bay Area are rising sharply because of increased demand as more and more homeowners continue to lose their houses to foreclosure, the CoCo Times reports. Increasing numbers of people are also renting because of the difficulty in obtaining mortgages. In Alameda County, the average rent is $1,490 a month, up 8.7 percent over last year.

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