Monday, June 28, 2010

Monday Must Read

By Robert Gammon
Mon, Jun 28, 2010 at 7:06 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. The Johannes Mehserle murder trial likely will come down to whether jurors believe the tears shed by the ex-BART cop were genuine or staged, the Chron reports. Was Mehserle telling the truth when he wept openly and told jurors: “I didn’t think I had my gun,” at the moment he fatally shot Oscar Grant in the back? Or will jurors question why Mehserle never told fellow officers after the killing that it had been accident — that he meant to pull out his Taser but mistakenly grabbed his gun instead. The case could go to the jury as early as the end of this week.

2. BART, Oakland police, and Oakland city officials, meanwhile, are preparing to deal with riots should Mehserle be acquitted, the Trib and Mercury News report. Police Chief Anthony Batts and Mayor Ron Dellums issued a statement late last week that said in part: “We are dedicated to ensuring the safe expressions of emotions during this difficult time. We understand that the community is grieving and we are in this together. We will get through this together. We are asking the community to come together, look out for one another and stay safe. We will not tolerate destruction or violence.”

3. Transportation officials are bracing for possible gridlock when new higher bridge tolls go into effect this Thursday, the Chron reports. The problems could be particularly acute on the Bay Bridge because carpoolers will no longer cross for free and must pay a $2.50 toll using FasTrak, and because the bridge toll for everyone else will jump to $6 during commute hours.

4. BART’s plans to use a $4.5 million surplus to fund a temporary fare rollback took a hit when agency board members decided to use part of the funds to finance pet projects, the Chron reports. The surplus has shrunk to $2.5 million.

5. Ten ballot measures have qualified for the November Election, the Mercury News and Sacramento Bee report. The latest initiatives to qualify ask voters to repeal nearly $2 billion in corporate tax breaks; get rid of the two-thirds majority legislators need to pass a state budget; make it harder to raise fees and other charges; and eliminate a citizens' commission that will redraw legislative districts.

6. State political parties are planning to file lawsuits to overturn Proposition 14, the so-called open primary initiative that voters approved in the June 8 primary, the Chron reports. However, the legal challenges may be a long shot because the US Supreme Court has previously upheld a similar law in Washington state.

7. And “Oaklavia,” a large, peaceful, and fun party in which streets in Oakland’s downtown were closed off to vehicle traffic, enjoyed a successful debut yesterday, the Chron reports.

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