Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Tuesday Must Read: Prop 8 Backers Say Gay Judge Should Have Disqualified Himself; Russo Spends $20,000 on Third Oakland Gang Injunction

By Robert Gammon
Tue, Apr 26, 2011 at 6:57 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. Anti-gay-marriage forces are attempting to overturn a federal court decision that invalidated Prop 8, arguing that Judge Vaughn Walker should have recused himself from the case because he is gay and would be able to marry his longtime partner if his ruling is upheld, according to several news outlets. Proposition 8 backers have asked another federal judge to throw out Walker’s ruling that the anti-gay-marriage law was unconstitutional. However, gay marriage supporters say the effort is desperate and won’t work, because it’s akin to asking minority or female judges to disqualify themselves from cases involving racial or gender discrimination.

2. Oakland City Attorney John Russo has paid an outside law firm at least $20,000 in taxpayer funds to lay the groundwork for a third gang injunction in the city — this time in East Oakland, the Chron reports. The first two gang injunctions, particularly the one in the city’s Fruitvale district, have proven to be highly controversial and costly. In February, Russo reported that the Fruitvale injunction, which has not been approved by the city council, had cost Oakland taxpayers at least $760,000 — and that was before contentious court hearings had taken place.

3. Amid mounting criticism, PG&E announced yesterday that its shareholders — and not ratepayers — would fund the $35 million golden parachute the utility will award to its outgoing CEO Peter Darbee, the Chron and Mercury News report. PG&E also said it would let customers opt out of its controversial SmartMeters program without penalty until state regulators approve the utility’s proposed plan later this year. That plan has come under fire in part because it would require ratepayers to pay a premium each month for not having SmartMeters.

4. Oakland-based BrightSource Energy revealed plans yesterday to construct a series of large solar-thermal plants across the Southwest that would produce power equal to eleven nuclear power stations, the Chron reports. BrightSource is attempting to raise $250 million in an initial public offering to jumpstart its plans.

5. Netflix added 3.59 million new customers last quarter, pushing its total number of subscribers to 23.6 million and moving past Showtime and Comcast into second place behind HBO, the Chron and Mercury News report.

6. And gas prices continue to surge in California and throughout country. The Los Angeles Times reports that the average price of regular unleaded gas reached $4.22 in California yesterday, and rose to $3.88 nationwide.

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