Friday, March 18, 2016

Friday Must Reads: Oakland Homicides Plummet; BART Line Shut Down Indefinitely; SeaWorld Ending Orca Shows

By Robert Gammon
Fri, Mar 18, 2016 at 10:18 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. The number of homicides In Oakland has plummeted so far this year, and the city is on track to record the fewest killings in three decades, the Chron$ reports. Currently, the city has had just seven homicides in 2016, compared to eighteen in each of the last two years at this time. Oakland police attribute the homicide drop to an increased emphasis on criminal investigations and to better cooperation with witnesses and city residents in solving crime.

2. BART officials said the line between the Pittsburg-Bay Point and North Concord stations will be shut down indefinitely because of electrical surges, and the train system will suffer delays and service problems for months, the Chron reports. BART keeps getting hit by power surges that knock out trains, and officials don’t know what’s causing the problem. Fifty trains went out of service this week because of the power surges.

click to enlarge orca_seaworld-shamu.jpg
3. SeaWorld announced that it’s ending its orca breeding program and will phase out its killer whale entertainment shows at its amusement parks in California, Florida, and Texas, the LA Times$ reports. SeaWorld has never fully recovered from the hard-hitting documentary, Blackfish, which detailed The company’s mistreatment of orcas.


4. The Berkeley City Council greenlighted a bike lane project on Fulton Street in downtown on a stretch of road where a cyclist was seriously injured recently, StreetsBlogSF reports (h/t Berkeleyside). The council’s unanimous decision represented a big victory for bike advocates who have been pushing for more bike lanes in the city.

5. The state Fair Political Practices Commission voted to tighten lobbying rules, closing a loophole that effectively had allowed ex-legislators to avoid registering as lobbyists and instead call themselves “experts,” the SacBee$ reports.

6. The US Justice Department sued to block the parent company of the Los Angeles Times from buying the bankrupt Orange County Register and Riverside Press Enterprise, alleging that the purchase violates anti-trust rules, the LA Times$ reports. The DOJ contends that the deal would give Tribune Publishing, which owns the LA Times, an unfair monopoly on daily papers in Southern California.

7. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti is urging California regulators to mandate that Uber and Lyft drivers undergo fingerprint background checks like taxicab drives are required to do, the LA Times$ reports. “Last year, the top prosecutors for Los Angeles and San Francisco identified 25 Uber drivers with convictions for murder, assault, driving under the influence and other offenses.”

8. And state water managers announced that the heavy March rains will allow them to increase water shipments this year, the Chron reports.

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