Thursday, January 13, 2011

Thursday Must Read: Brown Budget Plan to Face Lawsuits; Oakland Requests Gang Injunction Info

By Robert Gammon
Thu, Jan 13, 2011 at 7:09 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. Cities and redevelopment agencies indicated yesterday that they will sue Governor Jerry Brown to block his plan to eliminate redevelopment agencies and business enterprise zones, Capitol Weekly reports. “It (eliminating redevelopment agencies) is another gimmick that will likely result in extensive litigation,” John Shirey, executive director of the California Redevelopment Association, said in a written statement. Brown wants to kill redevelopment agencies and then use their tax revenues to help fill the state’s $28 billion budget hole. But the League of California Cities maintains that the governor’s proposal runs afoul of Prop 22, a statewide initiative approved by voters in November. Under Proposition 22, “the state can’t directly or indirectly do this,” said Dwight Stenbakken, the deputy executive director of the League of California Cities.

2. Brown’s budget proposal also could face trouble because it likely requires a two-thirds majority to pass the state Legislature, according to the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office, the Chron reports. Getting a two-thirds vote may prove difficult if liberal and progressive Democrats oppose any of the wide-ranging cuts Brown has proposed.

3. Oakland City Council members have asked City Attorney John Russo for a report on gang injunctions, including how much they’re costing the city, the Trib reports. Councilmembers also want to know whether the North Oakland gang injunction instituted last year has impacted crime or whether placing people on a gang injunction list puts them in harm’s way. Russo and the Oakland police department established the North Oakland gang injunction without council approval and are attempting to implement one in the city‘s Fruitvale District without council’s okay.

4. The number of carpools on the Bay Bridge has dropped significantly since last July when the Toll Authority started charging to use the carpool lane, the CoCo Times reports. The number of carpools has plummeted by 11,400 a day since the $2.50 charge began. But transportation officials believe most carpoolers have switched to BART because commute times over the bridge have dropped by 15 percent during commute hours since the Toll Authority also instituted congestion pricing. However, motorists may be commuting more before 5 a.m. or after 10 a.m. to avoid the higher tolls.

5. The number of homes falling into foreclosure dropped by 4.7 percent last year, the CoCo Times reports. That’s better than the national average, which showed an increase of 2 percent, but it’s not as good as the rest of California, which experienced a 14 percent decline, the Los Angeles Times reports. But the good news on foreclosures in the Bay Area and the state could be short-lived, because of high unemployment and the fact that many adjustable rate mortgages will reset this year.

6. The national economy also finished on a high note in 2010, AP reports, as factory production increased, shoppers spent more, and companies started hiring again. However, the foreclosure crisis and stubbornly high unemployment continue to plague the nation’s economy.

7. And California consumers can’t sue car insurance companies who illegally jack up rates if the state Insurance Commissioner’s Office mistakenly approves the unlawful rate hikes, the state Supreme Court ruled, according to the Chron.

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