Monday, July 12, 2010

Monday Must Read

By Robert Gammon
Mon, Jul 12, 2010 at 7:09 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. In a last-ditch effort to avoid laying off eighty Oakland cops, city officials and the police union are resuming negotiations today over employee pensions, the Chron reports. Talks broke down on Friday when the cops’ union demanded that the city promise to not lay off officers for three years in exchange for contributing 9 percent to their pension plans like other city employees do, the Trib reported. But city council members say making such a promise would be irresponsible because the city’s projected deficit next year is higher than this year’s. The council has offered a no-layoff-promise for one year if police start contributing to their retirement plans. If no deal is reached today, the eighty officers will be laid off tonight.

2. Oakland is not alone in its effort to reign-in out-of-control public employee pensions. Cities and counties around California are increasingly attempting to curtail Cadillac retirement plans that allow workers to retire at age 50 or 55 with nearly full pay for life, the Sacramento Bee reports. There are efforts in several cities to scale-back pensions for new hires.

3. Defense attorney Michael Rains plans to ask the judge in the Johannes Mehserle trial to throw out the ex-BART cop’s gun-enhancement conviction, the Trib reports. Rains and other legal experts contend that the gun-enhancement charge required jurors to conclude that Mehserle intended to shoot Oscar Grant. But the jurors’ decision to convict Mehserle of involuntary manslaughter indicated that they believed he meant to fire his Taser — and not his gun. If Rains is successful, Mehserle could receive a sentence of two to four years in prison — instead of five to fourteen years — and could even be eligible for probation.

4. At least sixty percent of laws enacted in California in the 2007-08 legislative session were sponsored by lobbyists and special interests, the Mercury News reports in a new investigation.

5. UC Berkeley is seriously considering offering online classes for credit in an effort to raise revenues and slash classroom costs, the Chron reports. But some faculty members worry that the proposal will hurt Cal’s academic reputation.

6. Foreign-student enrollment at UC Berkley jumped 50 percent this summer as the university continues to look for ways to raise money, the Chron reports. Foreign students, who represented 16 percent of summer enrollment, pay much higher tuition than California residents do.

7. The foreign-student-enrollment surge also has extended to community colleges around the state as schools scramble to increase revenues during an era of budget cuts, the Chron reports. Peralta Community Colleges has led the trend for years.

8. San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom has a nine-point lead over Lieutenant Governor Abel Maldonado in the lieutenant governor’s race, the Chron reports, citing a new Field Poll. The poll also shows that San Francisco District Attorney Kamala is trailing Los Angeles DA Steve Cooley by three percentage points.

9. And Oakland Tribune city hall reporter Kelly Rayburn has left the paper to go to law school. Rayburn, the Trib’s best Oakland City Hall reporter in years, had his last day on Friday. For the time being, veteran Trib reporter Cecily Burt will replace him.


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