Friday, February 4, 2011

Friday Must Read: Batts is Staying, Gang Injunction Defense is Moving Forward

By Ellen Cushing
Fri, Feb 4, 2011 at 7:54 AM

Lots of news today! Stories you shouldn't miss:

1. Chief Anthony Batts will be staying in Oakland, he announced just before 9 this morning. In case you missed it, Batts' bid for San Jose's Chief job ignited quite a bit of controversy last month. He was passed over for the San Jose job last week but until this morning had been cagey about whether he planned to stay in Oakland.

2. Despite concerns about conflict of interest, the law firm representing defendants in Oakland's gang injunction case will be allowed to move forward with the case, a judge ruled yesterday. As we've previously reported, the injunction targets 40 alleged members of Fruitvale's Norteno's gang. But because these are civil, rather than criminal proceedings, alleged gang members have no right to an attorney. The firm, Siegel and Yee, announced that it intended to fight the injunction shortly after it was proposed, but City Attorney John Russo raised concerns about conflict of interest because the form employs city councilmember Jan Brunner and Quan transition team member Dan Siegel, in addition to representing Mayor Quan in personal legal matters. Yesterday's preliminary ruling essentially dismissed those concerns, saying the firm had set up enough checks and balances to avoid conflict of interest. Lawyers on both sides are expected to start presenting evidence later this month.

3. California's cap-and-trade plan violates the law, a judge tentatively ruled yesterday. What this means (if the judge makes his ruling final) is that the state would be barred from implementing AB32, the landmark environmental legislation passed in 2008 (and upheld by voters in November), until it conducts a more thorough environmental review. The law apparently violates the California Environmental Quality Act, a Reagan-era law that requires the state to, per the Chron, "identify potential negative environmental consequences from their activities and to either mitigate those consequences or prevent them altogether."

4. The OPD's police radio system broke down not once but twice between Wednesday night and Thursday morning, according to the Trib. The system — which also malfunctioned during an eventually fatal car chase last week — failed during a covert operation, and the officers were forced to resort to hand signals. The city's looking into it.

5. Cal Chancellor Robert Birgeneau is expected to announce his final decision about the fate of Cal's sports teams next week. Since the university cut five sports last year in a cost-cutting measure, a grassroots effort to save the teams has raised millions of dollars, though it's unclear as of yet whether that'll be enough.

6. And unemployment dropped to 9 percent in January, the lowest rate in about two years, though job growth also appears to be slow.

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