Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Wednesday Must Reads: Oakland Council Okays Surveillance Plan, Outlaws Hammers; Richmond Launches Pioneering Anti-Foreclosure Program

By Robert Gammon
Wed, Jul 31, 2013 at 7:00 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. The Oakland City Council early this morning greenlighted a controversial surveillance plan after agreeing to add safeguards designed to address privacy concerns raised by civil libertarians, the Trib reports. The council also voted to outlaw hammers and wrenches at demonstrations, after a waiter was severely injured earlier this month during a protest after George Zimmerman was acquitted of murdering Trayvon Martin.

Richmond Mayor Gayle McLaughlin
  • Richmond Mayor Gayle McLaughlin
2. Richmond became the first city in the country to use eminent domain powers to help homeowners who are underwater on their properties and in danger of foreclosure, the Chron$ reports. The innovative program, which was announced by Mayor Gayle McLaughlin, involves the city partnering with a San Francisco investment firm to buy up mortgages from banks and then lower monthly payments for property owners so they can stay in their homes.

3. A federal appeals court ruled that Oscar Grant’s father can sue the BART police officer — Johannes Mehserle — who shot and killed Grant, the Chron$ reports. The ruling also allows Oscar Grant’s father to sue other BART officers who were involved in the incident in which Grant was killed.

4. A military judge convicted Bradley Manning of twenty charges for leaking classified information to WikiLeaks, but acquitted the army private of the more serious charge of aiding the enemy — which could have brought a life sentence, AP reports.

5. PG&E’s CEO told the Mercury News that he thinks oil and natural gas companies operating in California should have to publicly disclose the types of chemicals they pump into the ground during fracking. The comments by Anthony Early could prove pivotal because PG&E is a major buyer of fracked natural gas.

6. And ride-sharing companies like Uber, Lyft, and Sidecar would be able to operate throughout California under proposed rules made by state Public Utilities Commission staffers, the Chron$ reports. The taxicab industry strongly opposes ride-sharing, some cities have made moves to ban it, and officials at SFO said they have arrested ride-sharing drivers this month for trespassing.

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