Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Wednesday Must Read: Quan Urges Occupy Oakland to Condemn Violence; Parts of Brown’s Pension Overhaul May Be Illegal

By Robert Gammon
Wed, Nov 9, 2011 at 6:48 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. In an open letter to Occupy Oakland, Mayor Jean Quan urged protesters to “isolate” the violent demonstrators who are growing increasingly influential in the movement, the Chron reports. The mayor also again pleaded with the occupiers to work with the city to help make the encampment in front of City Hall clean and safe. Progressives are expected to attend tonight’s General Assembly to push for a resolution condemning violence.

2. Portions of Governor Jerry Brown’s plan to overhaul the state’s public-employee pension system appear to be illegal, according to the nonpartisan Legislative Analysts’ Office, the CoCo Times reports. The LAO noted that the governor’s plan to require existing public employees to contribute more to their pensions runs afoul of collective bargaining rights. The LAO, however, found no fault with Brown’s plan to place restrictions on retirement benefits for new public employees.

3. Nearly one-quarter — 24.6 percent — of homes in the nine-county Bay Area are underwater, according to Zillow, the Chron reports. That’s an increase over the last quarter when 22.8 percent were underwater (that is, homeowners owed more on their mortgages than the homes are worth). In Alameda County, 24 percent of homes are underwater; in Contra Costa County, 35.9 percent are. Statewide, 28.6 percent are underwater; and nationally, it’s 26.8 percent.

4. Solar power reached a milestone in California, surpassing the one gigawatt mark for the first time in terms of total energy output, the Mercury News reports. One gigawatt is roughly equivalent to two coal-fired power plants and is enough energy to power 750,000 homes. Only the countries of Germany, Spain, Japan, Italy and the Czech Republic have passed the one gigawatt mark.

5. And a conservative-leaning federal appellate court has upheld President Obama’s healthcare reform law, ruling that it’s constitutional, the LA Times reports. The ruling means that four federal appellate courts have now upheld Obamacare. Only one has ruled against it, saying that the individual mandate, which requires everyone to have health insurance, is unconstitutional.

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