Morning Splash: Mehserle Sentencing; High-Speed Rail Start Announced; Renteria Option Declined
- On July 8, when a jury reached a verdict of involuntary manslaughter in the shooting death of Oscar Grant by former BART police officer Johannes Mehserle, community reaction in Oakland was peaceful during the day. However, protests turned violent at night. Now, as the city waits for Judge Robert Perry to sentence Mehserle Mehserle in Los Angeles Friday, it is preparing for any possible turmoil. From the Oakland Tribune:
Dealing with the anger and frustration that a lighter sentence might provoke is high on Oakland’s priorities this week. The city’s police have assigned extra officers to patrol the streets and asked other law enforcement agencies for help. They also have an emergency operations center established and news briefings scheduled throughout the day to keep the public informed.
Police have reached out to a number of faith-based organizations to ask for their support in keeping calm and peace on sentencing day. Last week, several ministers met with Oakland police Chief Anthony Batts to coordinate their message. (Full story)
The sentencing hearing starts at 8:30 a.m. Mehserle could receive anywhere from probation to 14 years in prison.
- California High-Speed Rail officials announced that construction of the state’s high-speed rail system will “start in the Central Valley, not between San Francisco and San Jose or in Southern California,” the San Francisco Chronicle reports.
The San Jose Mercury News has posted a map of the system, including proposed stations.
In a Wednesday letter to the authority, the Federal Railroad Administration said that all of the federal stimulus money awarded to California – $2.3 billion in January and $715 million last week – must be spent in the Central Valley.
The news was not entirely a surprise. Last week’s award specified that the money was to be spent in the valley, but high-speed rail officials believed they still had a choice on where to use the $2.3 billion.
Because the initial phase of the $43 billion system will connect San Francisco’s Transbay Terminal with Los Angeles’ Union Station and Anaheim, many observers thought construction would begin in one of the state’s two largest population centers, in an effort to build support for the project.
The decision does not affect the allocation of $400 million to build the foundation for a high-speed rail station in the new Transbay Transit Center in downtown San Francisco. (Full story)
- The San Jose Mercury News reports that a regulatory filing by PG&E includes figures that could put the total cost of dealing with the San Bruno gas pipeline fire at $1 billion. From the report:
PG&E revealed in a regulatory filing that the cost of repairing the devastated neighborhood, compensating victims, reinspecting its natural gas pipes and other related expenses could total $550 million. That’s on top of the $450 million it may need to spend to replace valves on those pipelines. Then there is the as-yet-unspecified amount required for major renovations to its gas network that it recently proposed in a vague plan dubbed “pipeline 2020.”
Consumer advocates worry there’s a big incentive for PG&E to push these improvements because it typically makes more money on such upgrades than it does providing gas and electricity, and can pass the costs on to customers. (Full story)
- The Sacramento Bee reports that almost 2 million ballots still need to be counted from the election, and that doesn’t include those that remain unprocessed from San Francisco, Fresno, and 11 smaller counties. From the Bee:
Of the total, 1.4 million are absentee ballots that were returned to counties in the final days before Election Day or on Election Day that have yet to be opened and counted. Another 451,056 ballots were cast provisionally and have yet to be processed, and 56,652 ballots are either damaged or were diverted by optical scanners for further review. Full post
- The Giants declined to pick up the 2011 contract option of World Series MVP Edgar Renteria, making him a free agent.