Thursday, July 7, 2011

Thursday Must Read: Batts Announces OPD Reorganization; Judge Wants to Know if Star Witness Lied in Bailey Case

By Robert Gammon
Thu, Jul 7, 2011 at 10:33 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. Chief Anthony Batts announced the reorganization of the Oakland Police Department in an attempt to maintain public safety with a much smaller force. Oakland has 637 police officers, down from more than 800 when Batts was hired by then-Mayor Ron Dellums in 2009. As a result, Batts is decreasing the city’s geographic policing areas from three to two, consolidating major crimes investigations, and moving officers who are recovering from injuries from desk jobs to the property crimes unit, the Chron and Trib report. The Oakland police union, meanwhile, is expected to announce today whether its rank-and-file members have approved a tentative deal with city leaders that would require cops to pay 9 percent of their pensions.

2. The judge in the Chauncey Bailey murder case has ordered a defense attorney and two East Bay newspaper reporters to court on August 12 to determine whether a star witness perjured himself. The Trib and Chron report that Judge Thomas Reardon wants to question attorney LaRue Grim and Bay Area News Group reporters Thomas Peele and Josh Richman, concerning a story they co-wrote in which Grim was quoted as saying that his client Devaughndre Broussard may have “committed a little bit of fabrication” in his story. Broussard, who confessed to fatally shooting Oakland journalist Bailey in 2007, was the prime witness in the trial of Your Black Muslim Bakery’s Yusuf Bey IV and Antoine Mackey, and helped convict both of first-degree murder for their roles in Bailey’s death. The judge has put off sentencing for Bey IV and Mackey until he talks to Grim, Peele, and Richman.

3. Colleges in the California State University system have among the fastest rising tuition rates in the country, the Chron reports. The news comes as the CSU board of directors will consider a plan to raise tuition by another 12 percent, starting this fall, because of deep state budget cuts. The new increase would be on top of a 10 percent hike already approved, and it would be the tenth hike in the past twelve years. Cal State East Bay ranked as the fifth highest nationwide in terms of tuition rate hikes, with a 46 percent increase in the past three years.

4. The city of Berkeley, long known for its unfriendly attitude toward businesses, has decided to make it much easier for restaurants and cafes to offer sidewalk seating, the Chron reports. It used to take three years and more than $1,000 to get through the city’s Byzantine rules to put tables and chairs on sidewalks, but the new regulations will allow businesses to do it for as little as $350 in four weeks.

5. And in the best Must Read of the day, check out the Mercury Newsharrowing account of a Bay Area man who survived a shipwreck over the weekend off the coast of Mexico. The San Rafael grandfather swam for eight hours against a stiff current to reach the shore. Seven passengers, however, are still missing, including a Berkeley man, the Chron reports.

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