Thursday, February 17, 2011

Thursday Must Read: Jerry’s Tax Plan May Be Dead; State High Court Takes Up Prop 8 — Again

By Robert Gammon
Thu, Feb 17, 2011 at 7:04 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. Jerry Brown’s plan for a June tax measure may be dead in the water because no state senate Republicans are willing to put it on the ballot, the SacBee reports. In fact, senate GOP leader Bob Dutton said that he knows of no Republicans who will vote to place Brown’s tax measure before voters — even if Brown tackles the state’s public-employee-pension problem. Dutton said Brown and Democratic leaders should prepare to make $26 billion worth of budget cuts — a move that could devastate education funding and further shred the state’s social safety net. Dutton, however, said Republicans would not put forward any plan for what should be slashed.

2. The California Supreme Court unanimously agreed yesterday to take up Prop 8 again, the Chron reports. However, the court will not decide whether the anti-gay-marriage measure is constitutional. Instead, the court will address the question of whether Prop 8 supporters have a legal right to defend the measure in federal appeals court, the Chron reports. If the high court rules against Prop 8 backers, then the gay marriage likely will become legal again in the state.

3. The Metropolitan Transportation Commission’s habit of spending far more money on suburban rail projects than on bus lines is not racially discriminatory, a federal appeals court ruled yesterday, the Chron and CoCo Times report. The ruling was a major setback for bus-transit advocates who contend that Bay Area regional transportation planners have routinely favored white-suburban-transit commuters over inner-city bus riders.

4. Oakland’s second proposed gang injunction went to court yesterday, and an alleged member of the Nortenos in the city’s Fruitvale district denied that he’s a member of the gang and noted that he has no record of violence, the Chron and Trib report. The gang injunction case is set to resume next week. City Attorney John Russo is attempting to obtain injunctions against forty alleged gang members in an effort to combat crime, but critics say he has targeted people who do not have records of violence.

5. The City of Oakland has agreed to provide more services for Spanish- and Chinese-language speakers as part of a legal settlement, the Trib reports. Even though the city agreed a decade ago to hire more bilingual workers and provide more services for Spanish and Chinese-language speakers, it has failed to do so.

6. Borders Books plans to close its Alameda store, but apparently will keep its Emeryville location open — at least for now — as part of its bankruptcy plan. The bookstore chain, which was instrumental in putting independent stores out of business over the years, plans to close eleven stores in the Bay Area and more than 200 nationwide, the Chron reports.

7. A new bill in the state Legislature is designed to curb over fishing of Dungeness crab in the bay and protect small-boat operators, the Chron reports. The bill is backed by Bay Area crabbers and environmental groups.

8. And IBM’s Watson, a computer with artificial intelligence, absolutely destroyed two past Jeopardy champions on a special edition of the popular game show, Bloomberg News reports.

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