Stories you shouldn’t miss:
1. Oakland Mayor Jean Quan is coming under heated criticism because overgrown vegetation at her Oakland home appears to represent not only a fire hazard but blight under city law, KTVU and the Chron report. At Tuesday night’s council meeting, City Hall gadfly Ken Pratt displayed photos of the mayor’s home and called her the “Queen of Blight.” A gardener hired by Quan’s family said he was dispatched to clean-up vegetation at the home after the council meeting. At a press briefing, Quan admitted that she has not maintained vegetation in front of her home during much of the past two years while she was campaigning and then taking over as mayor. She and the fire department also said that none of her neighbors have complained and that her home has repeatedly passed fire inspections.
2. Quan, meanwhile, appeared to reassure the federal judge who is considering placing the Oakland Police Department in receivership because of its slow progress in adopting mandated reforms, the Trib reports. “I'm committed as mayor to end this so you can go on and we can go on,” Quan told Judge Thelton Henderson at a hearing yesterday. “Thank you for those comments and that commitment,” the judge responded. “I'm encouraged by that.” Henderson had been considering putting OPD under federal receivership right away, but decided to give the mayor and the department until January. Still, Henderson remains frustrated at OPD’s lack of progress and called out the department for its “culture of resistance” to the mandated reforms.
3. Republican presidential frontrunner Rick Perry stumbled badly again last night at a GOP debate, as his competitors relentlessly attacked him for his stances on social security, immigration, and vaccinations. The Texas governor also seemed way out of his league when it comes to foreign policy. Perry's poor public performances are worrying Republicans, especially those who think that his main rival, Mitt Romney, is not conservative enough for the Tea Party.
4. The New York Times today has what may be the best story yet on the Solyndra debacle. The money quote — it all came down to silicon: “Solyndra’s unique tube-shaped solar panels — which harvest early morning and evening light for electricity instead of just midday sun — do not rely on silicon. But it assumed its competitors would continue to pay a relatively high price for silicon, allowing Solyndra to charge the premium required to turn a profit on its panels. It was an assumption Obama officials bought into. But industry experts outside the federal government, going back to 2008, were predicting silicon prices were headed for a steep fall.” And fall they did.
5. Former California GOP gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman has taken over HP, the troubled technology company.
6. State voters remain as enamored as ever with Proposition 13, a new Field Poll shows.
7. And veteran KTVU reporter Bob MacKenzie, a legend in Bay Area journalism, has died.