Monday, January 30, 2012

Monday Must Read: Occupy Oakland Vandalizes City Hall; Dems Have Good Shot at Taking the Senate

By Robert Gammon
Mon, Jan 30, 2012 at 7:59 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. Occupy Oakland protesters used a crowbar to break into City Hall on Saturday night and then vandalized the historic building after a demonstration turned into chaos, the Chron and Trib report. The demonstrators grew angry after police blocked them from taking over the vacant Henry J. Kaiser Convention Center, a publicly owned building on Lake Merritt. Protesters also streamed into the Oakland YMCA on Broadway while people were working out inside the facility. Mayor Jean Quan said the protesters had acted as if they were throwing a “tantrum,” and were treating the city as if it were their own “playground.” But protesters contended that Oakland police had overreacted.

2. Democrats have a good shot at taking control of the state senate in the wake of the California Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the new legislative districts drawn by the nonpartisan citizens’ commission, the SacBee reports. If Democrats take over the senate, it will make it much easier to raise taxes, and to stop slashing spending for education and social services.

3. A campaign finance “reform” ballot measure secretly targets unions and would make it much more difficult for them to affect the political process, the CoCo Times reports. The backers of the measure hope residents will vote for it because it supposedly curtails corporate spending on elections, too, but critics note that corporations will still be able to fund super pacs if the measure passes in November.

4. Governor Jerry Brown fired two top environmental regulators after big oil companies complained that the state employees were making it too difficult to do business in the state, the LA Times reports. The regulators were attempting to tighten rules on oil drilling in the state, but Brown fired them, saying there needed to be a better balance between protecting the environment and stimulating the economy. Soon after the firings, oil giant Occidental Petroleum donated $250,000 to Brown’s tax measure campaign.

5. Pet owners are angry about a new proposal from Governor Brown that would make it easier to euthanize animals, the Chron reports. The proposed rule change would allow animal shelters to kill stray pets within 72 hours of capture rather than having to wait four to six days to see if their owners retrieve the pets or if they will be adopted. Brown’s administration says the rule change will save the state $23 million a year, but animal advocates contend that it will result in numerous unnecessary deaths.

6. PG&E was fined $16.8 million by state regulators for failing to conduct gas-leak surveys on fourteen miles of its distribution system in eastern Contra Costa County, the Chron reports.

7. And a series of New York Times investigations conclusively shows that Apple has been badly exploiting Chinese workers, who toil in horrible conditions while making iPhones, iPads, and other Apple products. However, most other electronic companies are doing the same.

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