Thursday, September 5, 2013

Thursday Must Reads: Rim Fire Was Caused By A Hunter's Campfire: Brown Agrees to Exempt Transit Workers from Pension Cuts

By Robert Gammon
Thu, Sep 5, 2013 at 10:02 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. The Associated Press is reporting this morning that the massive Rim Fire that is still raging in Yosemite National Park was caused by an illegal campfire started by a hunter in Stanislaus National Forest. US Forest Service officials said yesterday that the huge blaze was definitely not caused by an illegal pot farm. Last week, a local fire chief had said that the blaze may have been started by a marijuana grow deep inside Stanislaus National Forest. But USFS officials say it would have been impossible to grow pot in the steep, rugged terrain where the fire started.

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2. Governor Jerry Brown has agreed to a deal with federal transportation officials that would exempt transit workers from pension cuts in exchange for billions in federal transportation dollars, the LA Times$ reports. The Obama administration had threatened to withhold $4.3 billion in federal transit funds for California, contending that the sweeping pension cutbacks that Brown pushed through the legislature last year violated federal labor laws. As part of the settlement deal, Brown’s administration plans to sue to overturn a 1964 law that requires pension changes for transit workers to be negotiated through collective bargaining.

3. More than 6,300 acres of forest near Lake Tahoe will be protected under a deal that will allow 670 housing units to be built near Truckee, the Chron reports. The settlement ends a dispute over a previous plan to build even more housing in the area.

4. Siskiyou County, a Republican stronghold near the Oregon border, voted this week to secede from California, citing disagreements with the Democratic-controlled state government in Sacramento. The Chron reported that the secession vote was part of a larger effort to create a new state with other conservative rural counties in Northern California and Southern Oregon. However, such an effort likely will fail because it would require the okay from the state legislature and the federal government.

5. Oakland police Compliance Director Thomas Frazier said in a report yesterday that OPD should work harder to attract officers from other police departments because the agency is losing too many cops through attrition, the Trib reports.

6. And the San Leandro City Council voted to add more surveillance cameras in the city despite concerns from citizens that the plan could violate civil liberties, the Trib reports.

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