Stories you shouldn’t miss:
1. Thomas Frazier, a former Baltimore police commissioner who has been described as "a social worker with a gun,” takes effective control of the Oakland Police Department today, the Trib reports. Frazier was appointed by federal Judge Thelton Henderson, and as OPD’s compliance director, will have sweeping powers over the department in an effort to finally get it to live up to court-mandated reforms. Frazier may, however, clash with Oakland’s new police consultant, William Bratton, the former head of the New York and Los Angeles police departments, because Frazier is known for eschewing “zero tolerance” policing policies and downplaying the importance of minor drug crimes.a major crackdown on criminal street gangs that Police Chief Howard Jordan said were responsible for much of the violent crime in the city recently, the Trib reports. The police sweep was part of the city’s Operation Ceasefire program. Police approached the gangs last fall in an effort to convince them to stop their violent lifestyles, but the gangs refused.
3. State legislators are increasingly sidestepping campaign finance contribution limits by funneling large sums of donor cash into ballot-measure committees, the SacBee$ reports. Many politicians then spend a significant portion of the money on expenditures that appear to have more to do with enhancing their personal lifestyles than getting ballot measures passed.
4. Democrats in Sacramento are pushing to reform Prop 13 this year — nine bills have been introduced in the legislature, the Orange County Register reports (via Rough & Tumble). Prop 13 has made it much more difficult to raise revenues in the state and is widely blamed for why California public schools are now among the worst in the nation.
5. And in a move that environmentalists are applauding, the US Forest Service plans to stop fighting so many fires in remote areas, the AP reports. Environmentalists have long argued that the “kill all fires” approach has prevented fires from keeping forests healthy.