Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Wednesday Must Read

by Robert Gammon
Wed, Jun 30, 2010 at 7:08 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. Closing arguments in the Johannes Mehserle murder trial will take place Thursday now that both the prosecution and defense have rested their cases, the Chron and Trib report. The prosecution finished its rebuttal case yesterday follwing the testimony of a friend of Mehserle’s who said the ex-BART cop never mentioned after killing Oscar Grant that he meant to Tase him and not shoot him. Instead, Mehserle kept saying of Grant, “I thought he had a gun, I thought he had a gun.” Law enforcement officers are trained to not use Tasers if they believe a suspect has a firearm. Also, the jury is off today as the defense and prosecution argue key motions in the case. Among them is a defense request that the jury only be given the choice of murder or acquittal — and not be allowed to convict Mehserle of voluntary or involuntary manslaughter.

2. The NAACP has endorsed the statewide marijuana legalization measure, Tax Cannabis 2010, calling it a civil rights issue, the Chron reports. The NAACP notes the young black men are up to four times more likely than whites to be arrested on marijuana charges even though studies show they’re less likely to use cannabis.

3. Governor Schwarzenegger and key legislative leaders are pushing to remove an $11 billion water bond measure from the November ballot, the Chron and CoCo Times report. The governor believes that the continuing economic downturn could sink the controversial measure this year and that it has a better chance of winning in 2012.

4. The Alameda County Sheriff’s Office is losing sixty positions, including 43 sworn police jobs, because of budget cuts made by the county board of supervisors, the Trib reports. In addition, supervisors slashed 15 positions from the county probation department and nine total jobs from the county district attorney and public defender’s offices.

5. Oakland Councilwoman Rebecca Kaplan likely will officially announce her candidacy for mayor today, the Trib reports. Kaplan set up an exploratory committee for mayor earlier this spring.

6. Jerry Brown is defending his $1.8 million home in the Oakland hills as “relatively modest,” the Associated Press reports. The state attorney general has been taking criticism because his beautiful home with sweeping views of San Francisco Bay undercuts his claim that he’s an everyman candidate running against the super-wealthy Meg Whitman.

7. A bill moving through the state Legislature would allow people who have refinanced their homes to be treated the same under foreclosure laws as those who have not refinanced, the Chron reports. Currently, people who have refinanced must repay their mortgages if their homes end up in foreclosure or if they sell them in short-sales, while homeowners who haven’t refinanced can just walk away. The bill was approved by the state Senate and is in the Assembly, but the banking industry does not want it to apply to existing mortgages.

8. And Tesla, the electronic car manufacturer that plans to build vehicles at the old NUMMI plan in Fremont, had a very successful stock debut yesterday, as the value of its shares increased 41 percent, the Mercury News reports.

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