Thursday, December 23, 2010

Thursday Must Read: Oakland Targets Motels for Prostitution; OPD’s Videotaped Confessions Are Working

By Robert Gammon
Thu, Dec 23, 2010 at 7:03 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. Oakland City Attorney John Russo has filed lawsuits against three motels in the city that police say have become havens for prostitution, the Trib and Chron report. The lawsuits request that the motels be shut down for a year and each pay $25,000 fines unless they solve their prostitution problems. The worst of three, according to Russo, is the Economy Inn at 122 E. 12th St., near Lake Merritt. The other two are the Sage Motel at 4844 MacArthur Blvd., near Mills College, and the National Lodge at 1711 International Blvd.

2. For years, Oakland police refused to videotape interviews with suspects, claiming that doing so would hurt their ability to solve crimes. But then in late 2008, the department changed course after a scandal involving its failure to videotape an interrogation involving the alleged killer of journalist Chauncey Bailey. Now, two years later, videotaping has proven to have no effect on the department’s ability to obtain confessions. In fact, the Trib reports, its helping county prosecutors obtain convictions.

3. Before its San Bruno pipeline exploded and killed eight people, PG&E strongly advocated for the flawed inspection process that failed to detect problems in the line, the Chron reports. PG&E also led the effort to convince regulators that it shouldn’t have to use inspection techniques that have proven to be more effective. Federal investigators are focusing on faulty welds that PG&E didn’t know existed as a possible reason for why the San Bruno pipeline blew up.

4. President Obama signed the repeal yesterday of the Pentagon’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. The US Senate also approved the START nuclear arms reduction treaty that the president negotiated with Russia. And the Senate approved the 9/11 responders’ bill that will provide aid to those who helped at Ground Zero in Manhattan. The final flurry of legislation before the Christmas break gave Obama a series of victories that capped his first two years in office.

5. And major insurers announced that they will again offer individual health plans to children because of a new California law, the LA Times reports. The insurers had stopped offering the plans earlier this year to protest the federal health-care overhaul.

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