Monday, January 17, 2011

Monday Must Read: Batts Headed to San Jose?; Brown Shields Big Oil, Prison Guards

By Robert Gammon
Mon, Jan 17, 2011 at 7:54 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. After a little more than a year on the job, Oakland Police Chief Anthony Batts is apparently ready to jump ship. The Trib reports that he’s one of two finalists to become San Jose’s next police chief. Batts’ departure, if it happens, will make for a tough challenge for new Mayor Jean Quan. And the police chief’s decision to apply for the San Jose post surprised many within in his own department. Assistant Chief Howard Jordan told the Trib he didn’t know about it, even though Batts apparently took the time to inform police union head Dom Arotzarena.

2. Governor Jerry Brown’s budget proposal shields big oil companies from higher taxes and protects the influential prison guards’ union from compensation cuts, the CoCo Times reports. Democrats in the past have pushed for an oil drilling extraction fee — much like other states charge — but Brown has abandoned that idea. And even though Brown’s budget calls for across-the-board cuts, the governor is proposing to add $395 million to state prisons “to fully fund the salary and wages of authorized correctional officers, sergeants, and lieutenants.”

3. The number of out-of-state and international students applying for admission to University of California schools has jumped significantly, as UC hopes to take advantage of the higher fees they pay, the Chron reports. Out-of-state freshman applications rose by 11 percent, and freshman applications from international students soared by 23 percent. Out-of-state and international students pay much higher tuition than those from California. Also, the number of applications from Latino students jumped 18 percent.

4. There’s evidence that PG&E has been gaming the system in an effort to avoid costly pipeline inspections. The Chron reports that the utility has admitted to spiking pressure in eleven pipelines, including the San Bruno line that exploded in a fatal disaster, and critics suspect that PG&E did it “to establish a higher inspection threshold and avoid the need for the rigorous water-pressure tests should an accidental surge occur.”

5. Oakland A’s co-owner Lew Wolff may buy land from San Jose’s redevelopment agency so that it will have money to purchase property for a new ballpark for his team, the Mercury News reports. Wolff has expressed interest in two properties that the city’s redevelopment agency is selling, although there’s some evidence that Wolff’s true intention is to drive up the price of the properties so that the city has plenty of money for his ballpark plans.

6. And opposition to the federal healthcare reform has diminished recently in the wake of the deadly Arizona rampage and attempted assassination of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, AP reports. Only one in four Americans say they support GOP efforts to repeal the new healthcare law, and among Republicans, support for repeal has dropped from 61 percent to 49 percent. Giffords, meanwhile, faces a long recovery after being shot in the head, although on Sunday, doctors upgraded her condition from critical to serious.

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