Friday, April 27, 2012

Friday Must Read: Three-Strikes Reform to Make Ballot; AC Transit Approves Shortened BRT

By Robert Gammon
Fri, Apr 27, 2012 at 6:57 AM

We’re back with the day’s top stories:

1. Californians likely will have another chance to reform the state’s three-strikes law this November after supporters of a reform measure authored by a group of Stanford University professors gathered far more signatures than needed to qualify for the ballot, the Mercury News reports. The measure would limit life-sentences to only the worst criminals, and would require that a so-called third strike be a violent felony. The measure is patterned after a previous one that lost narrowly at the ballot box, but the new proposition may have a better chance at winning approval because some Republicans are already supporting it, including LA District Attorney Steve Cooley. If passed, the measure could save state taxpayers up to $100 million a year, and would help lessen prison-overcrowding in California.

2. The AC Transit board of directors unanimously approved a scaled-down version of Bus Rapid Transit, the CoCo Times reports. The agency plans to build bus-only lanes from downtown Oakland to San Leandro, mostly along International Boulevard. BRT was originally supposed to go from downtown Berkeley to downtown San Leandro, but the City of Berkeley rejected the plan, and then AC Transit abandoned its proposal for BRT on Telegraph Avenue in North Oakland because of traffic and other concerns.

3. Solo drivers of fuel-efficient cars would be able to remain in carpool and toll lanes, under a bill in the state Assembly, the LA Times reports. The legislation applies to solo-drivers of electric, plug-in, and traditional hybrid vehicles.

4. Governor Jerry Brown has signed a law that would withhold state construction funds from cities that have bans on labor-friendly contracts, or so-called project-labor agreements, the San Diego Union Tribune reports (via Rough & Tumble). Project-labor agreements require that public contracts pay prevailing wages, but cities in conservative areas of the state are increasingly banning them because they say they make construction projects too expensive.

5. Oakland police seized 2,500 pot plants during a raid of an East Oakland warehouse, the Trib and Chron report. The illegal grow did not appear to be connected to any of the city’s permitted medical cannabis operations.

6. And the Chron has an interesting piece today on the increasing use of guard dogs to protect flocks of sheep in Marin County from coyotes and other predators. The use of Great Pyrenees dogs marks a stark turnaround for ranchers who over the past century have protected their livestock by killing coyotes with guns or by using poison or traps.

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