Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Wednesday Must Read: Oakland Council Moves Ahead on A’s Ballpark; Batts Asks FBI to Probe Cop Shooting

By Robert Gammon
Wed, Dec 15, 2010 at 9:57 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. An Oakland City Council committee agreed yesterday to spend $750,000 on an environmental study of a new ballpark for the A’s in Jack London Square, the Trib reports. The proposal will now go to the full council next Tuesday night for approval. The council’s Community and Economic Development committee voted 3-1 to move forward with the environmental study, which is to be paid with redevelopment funds. Councilman Ignacio De La Fuente was the lone vote against it, arguing that the city should not spend money until it gets a commitment from Major League Baseball. The committee included a provision to cancel the study if the league approves the A’s move to San Jose.

2. Oakland Police Chief Anthony Batts said last night that he has asked the FBI to investigate last month’s fatal shooting of an East Oakland barber by city police officers, the Trib reports. Cops said they shot Derrick Jones because they thought he was reaching for a gun, but it turned out to be just a small marijuana scale. Members of Jones’ family say they can’t trust an investigation being conducted by the police department’s internal affairs division or one by the county DA.

3. The deadly PG&E San Bruno gas line explosion may have been caused by faulty pipe welds, although federal investigators have not yet made a final conclusion about what triggered the blast, the Chron and Mercury News report. Federal investigators were particularly concerned that PG&E didn’t know that a section of the natural gas pipe that exploded had been welded together, let alone that it was done improperly. The revelation also raised serious questions about PG&E’s knowledge about its own pipelines and its inspection records and practices.

4. Governor-elect Jerry Brown warned educators yesterday to expect significant budget cuts for public schools next year because of the state’s $25 billion budget deficit, the Chron reports. Brown told educators to “please sit down” when they see his budget proposal on January 10. “If you’re in your car, please fasten your seat belt. It’s going to be a rough ride, but we’ll get through it,” he said. Brown has said that he plans to make drastic cuts to the state budget and then ask voters in June to approve tax hikes.

5. A federal judge has ordered the US Fish and Wildlife Service to redo its plan for protecting the threatened delta smelt in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, the Chron and CoCo Times report. Judge Oliver Wanger, whose ruled three years ago that Fish and Wildlife was not doing enough to protect the smelt, said yesterday that the agency had gone too far when it slashed water supplies to the southern Central Valley and Southern California, and that its decision was not based on sound science.

6. Oakland will pick up about sixty jobs because the US Department of Agriculture is leaving San Francisco, the Trib reports. And the city could nab another 500 jobs if three state agencies select new office space in Oakland.

7. And Google is making it easier to do voice searches on smartphones, the Mercury News reports. The company introduced new software that recognizes a user’s voice.

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