Friday, June 21, 2013

Friday Must Reads: Brown Reverses Course on Public Records; Federal Judges Threaten to Hold Governor in Contempt

By Robert Gammon
Fri, Jun 21, 2013 at 6:56 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. Governor Jerry Brown abruptly changed course Thursday and said he would not sign legislation that would have gutted California’s public records law, the LA Times$ reports. Instead, Brown said he intends to sign a new Assembly bill that will keep the California Public Records Act intact. State Senate President Darrell Steinberg also reversed his stance and said the Senate plans to pass the Assembly bill as well. Brown and state senators, including Loni Hancock and Mark DeSaulnier of the East Bay, had come under heavy criticism for their plan to eviscerate parts of the records law in order to save the state money. Brown and Steinberg said they will also support a ballot measure next year that would enshrine the public records law in the state constitution.

2. A panel of three federal judges threatened to hold Governor Brown in contempt of court if his administration continues to defy orders to relieve overcrowding in state prisons, the LA Times$ reports. The judges also ordered Brown to immediately release nearly 10,000 low-level prisoners. Brown said he will seek to put the judges’ order on hold while he appeals the ruling. The judges described the Brown administration’s refusal to further reduce prison overcrowding and provide inmates with adequate care as "defiance," "intransigence" and a "deliberate failure."

3. The Oakland Police Department, under the command of new interim Chief Sean Whent, vowed on Thursday to forge more positive relationships with the community as part of the agency’s new geographic policing program, the Trib reports. The department’s strained relations with many Oakland residents over the years, particularly with minority communities, have resulted in police being unable to get help in solving crimes.

4. Oakland City Attorney Barbara Parker has asked a federal court to postpone proceedings in a case in which US Attorney Melinda Haag is attempting to shut down Harborside Health Center, the largest medical cannabis dispensary on the West Coast, the Trib reports. Earlier this year, the court ruled that the City of Oakland had no standing to intervene in Haag’s attempts to force Harborside’s landlord to surrender her property to federal authorities. Parker is appealing that decision.

5. The prices of upscale homes in Berkeley are skyrocketing, with many homes selling for hundreds of thousands of dollars above asking price, Berkeleyside reports.

6. And construction has begun in Carmel Valley on the largest dam removal project in state history, the Mercury News reports. Crews are removing a large, unsafe dam on the Carmel River between Big Sur and Carmel.

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