Friday, June 11, 2010

Friday Must Read

By Robert Gammon
Fri, Jun 11, 2010 at 7:02 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. Oakland City Councilwoman Jean Quan came out swinging in the first mayoral debate last night, taking a shot at ex-state Senator Don Perata, who pulled out the event at the last minute, the Trib reports. "I think there are fundamental differences between some of the people on this stage and the candidate who's not here,” Quan told the audience, referring to Perata, who has grappled with ethical problems for most of his political career. “We want an Oakland that's not for sale.” However, the third major candidate in the race, Councilwoman Rebecca Kaplan, was less willing to take on the former senator. Kaplan is expected to woo both Perata’s and Quan’s supporters.

2. The murder trial of ex-BART cop Johannes Mehserle will be all about the numerous videos of the fatal shooting of Oscar Grant, the Trib and Chron report. In opening statements in the trial yesterday, prosecutor David Stein told the jury that the videos prove that Mehserle lost control and killed Grant in a fit of anger. But defense attorney Michael Rains contended that Mehserle got rattled and accidentally shot Grant to death when he meant to pull out his Taser.

3. BART’s board of directors tentatively approved a budget that includes a temporary fare decrease for passengers, according to the Chron and CoCo Times. However, the fare decrease, which has been criticized as being a political ploy hatched by BART officials who are up for election this year, will not go into effect if the public rejects the plan during a series of hearings in the coming weeks.

4. The Ellington, a luxury condo tower in Oakland’s Jack London Square that has struggled mightily, appears to be making a comeback. The Trib reports that more than half of the condos in the 134-unit building have sold.

5. Home mortgage rates are close to being at all-time low levels, the Trib reports. The average rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage is now 4.72 percent, close to the record of 4.71 percent set last year.

6. The state parks measure that would provide a guaranteed flow of money to California’s ailing park system qualified for the November ballot, the Chron and Mercury News report. The measure would levy an $18 fee on all vehicles in California. In return, California autos would receive free admission to the parks year-round.

7. And Jerry Brown and Meg Whitman criticized each other yesterday for not having viable plans to solve the state’s budget problems, the Chron and Mercury News report. And they’re both right.

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