Monday, August 29, 2011

Monday Must Read: Legislature Stonewalls on Salaries; Another BART Protest Tonight

By Robert Gammon
Mon, Aug 29, 2011 at 10:35 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. The state legislature has released some salary data for staff members, but political watchdogs say that Sacramento politicians are still trying to keep many of their expenditures secret, the LA Times and SacBee report. Leaders in the Senate and Assembly have been under fire to reveal how much money they hand out as rewards to loyal legislators and how much they withhold from those who defy them. The controversy was sparked by Democratic Assemblyman Anthony Portantino who has charged that Assembly Speaker John Perez slashed his office budget as payback for voting against this year’s budget.

  • Perez
The legislature has exempted itself for years from state open records laws and has long kept secret exactly how it spends taxpayer money on salaries and office expenses. Legislators also routinely refuse to reveal when and how often they meet with lobbyists and special interest groups.

2. Protesters are planning another demonstration against BART this evening in response to the agency’s decision to cut off cell-phone service earlier this month, AP reports. It would be the third such protest since BART decided to shut off cellular service in an attempt disrupt a demonstration over the fatal shooting of a homeless man by BART police.

3. PG&E wants ratepayers to pay most of the $2.2 billion cost of modernizing its aging gas pipeline network — a proposal that is sparking heated criticism, the Mercury News and Chron report. Consumer advocates contend that PG&E’s corporate shareholders should pay for most of the planned upgrades — not ratepayers.

4. The US State Department has given an initial greenlight to a controversial, massive oil pipeline that would send fossil fuel from Canada’s tar sands project to the refineries in the Gulf of Mexico, the LA Times reports. Environmentalists from around the country have been protesting at the White House against the pipeline because the Canadian tar sands project is destroying a pristine forest the size of Florida and because extracting oil from tar sands uses huge amounts of energy. Environmentalists are calling on President Obama to block the pipeline.

5. Wind energy companies in the Altamont Pass are finally replacing aging turbines that kill thousands of birds each year with much taller turbines that are safer for raptors, the Mercury News reports. Nearly 2,000 older turbines will be replaced with about 100 huge, state-of-the-art models that stand up to 430 feet tall. Taller turbines have been shown to kill far fewer birds than the older, shorter ones because it’s easier for raptors to avoid them while hunting for prey.

6. Yusuf Bey IV and Your Black Muslim Bakery accomplice Antoine Mackey were sentenced to life in prison for their roles in the murder of Oakland journalist Chauncey Bailey, the Chauncey Bailey Project reported. Bey IV, the onetime head of the notorious bakery, ordered Bailey’s assassination in 2007 to stop Bailey from exposing the bakery’s financial problems. Mackey was the getaway driver. The shooter, Devaughndre Broussard, received a lesser, 25-years-to-life sentence after he testified against Bey IV and Mackey.

7. And Moneyball, the movie about Oakland A’s General Manager Billy Beane, is scheduled to premiere at the Paramount Theatre on September 19, the Trib reports. The film is based on the nonfiction book of the same name by award-winning Berkeley writer Michael Lewis, and stars Brad Pitt as Beane.

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