Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Tuesday Must Read: State Senate Ok’s Prison Guards’ Pact; Cal Reinstates Men’s Gymnastics

By Robert Gammon
Tue, May 3, 2011 at 7:00 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. The state senate narrowly approved a pact that Governor Brown reached with the California prison guards’ union when two Republicans broke ranks and voted for what critics have described as a sweetheart deal. The senate also approved five other public-employee union deals that Brown negotiated even though the six pacts fall $200 million short of what the governor had promised. The CoCo Times reports that the pacts will now go to the state assembly, where they also will require two GOP votes to pass.

2. UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau reinstated men’s gymnastics yesterday after alumni raised $2.5 million to save the program, the Trib reports. The move follows the reinstatement of men’s baseball after donors contributed $9 million and means that Cal is not eliminating any collegiate sports. Men’s gymnastics, however, will not be able to offer athletic scholarships, at least for now, because donors fell short of the $4 million goal set by Birgeneau.

3. PG&E revealed yesterday that about 1,600 of its controversial SmartMeters overcharged customers when they got too hot, the Chron and Mercury News report. When the SmartMeters reached more than 100 degrees internally, they malfunctioned and overbilled ratepayers. PG&E is awarding refunds to affected customers, but maintains that the SmartMeter problems were not the cause of widespread reports of Bakersfield customers being overcharged in the summer of 2009.

4. President Obama is expected to get a substantial bump in the polls after US special forces killed terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden in Pakistan over the weekend, the Chron reports. The death of the Al Qaeda leader also is expected to boost the president’s reelection chances and delay the entrance of several Republican candidates in the 2012 presidential race. By this same time in 2007, ten GOP candidates had announced that they would attend the first debate of the 2008 campaign season, but this year only five have agreed to be on hand.

5. BART has stepped up security throughout its system out of concerns of a potential terrorist attack in retaliation for the killing of bin Laden, the Chron reports.

6. Another prosecution witness in the murder trial of Yusuf Bey IV suddenly lost his memory when testifying in court in front of the man accused of ordering the assassination of Oakland journalist Chauncey Bailey, the CoCo Times reports. Ehab Taha, who owned a West Oakland liquor store, said more than fifty times on the stand that he couldn’t remember anything about a 2005 attack in which members of Your Black Muslim Bakery beat him bloody and stole a shotgun from his store. That gun was later used to kill Bailey. Prosecutor Melissa Krum told the court that Taha told her he was afraid to testify. At least one other prosecution witness also told the jury she couldn't remember what she told police about Bey IV.

7. And California’s water supply should be plentiful this summer, state experts said, after the Sierra snowpack measured 144 percent of normal for this time of year, the Chron reports.

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