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A.M. Splash: Oakland City Council Audit; Mirkarimi’s Wife Upset; High-Speed Rail Deal

| March 29, 2012
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Oakland council members will be the subject of an audit evaluating whether they have unlawfully meddled in Oakland’s administrative affairs. The audit, initiated Wednesday by City Auditor Courtney Ruby, will include a review of Councilwoman Desley Brooks’ involvement in a city-owned teen center that has made the issue of interference by council members a hot topic at City Hall.

Eliana Lopez, the wife of suspended Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi, is in Venezuela for a month visiting family – but she’s making her voice heard loud and clear on how she thinks San Francisco’s criminal justice system has robbed her of her own voice and independence. She gave permission to her friend, Myrna Melgar, a former legislative aide to Supervisor Eric Mar, to write an opinion piece in the Bay Guardian.

Bay Area transportation leaders on Wednesday approved the region’s deal with the state to split the $1.5 billion cost to electrify the Caltrain line that would ultimately be shared with statewide bullet trains. “It will be much-improved train service in the corridor and it allows us to get some relatively early benefits of the spending of the high-speed rail funds without having to wait 10 to 20 years,” San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed, whose administration helped draft the deal, said in an interview after the vote.

Citing extraordinary harassment of police Lt. John Pike, a judge decided Wednesday that two reports on the pepper-spray incident at the University of California, Davis, can be released only with the names of most other officers redacted. Release of the documents may still be weeks off, depending on whether appeals are filed in the case. But Alameda Superior Court Judge Evelio M. Grillo made it clear during a hearing in Oakland that he does not want more police officers’ names released.

A student at Oakland High School appeared in juvenile court Wednesday to answer to four felony charges stemming from the accidental discharge of a gun he allegedly brought to school on Friday, a district attorney’s spokeswoman said.

The Palo Alto Police Department officially launched a campaign Wednesday night to rein in a significant uptick in burglaries and called on residents to help serve as its “eyes and ears.” …  Seventy-one residential burglaries were reported to the police department between Jan. 1 and March 26, said Lt. Dave Flohr, who oversees the investigative services division. That’s nearly half of the 149 reported in all of last year.

A plan by Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory to merge its energy labs into a major new research facility in Richmond where scientists would work to develop biofuels through genetic engineering came under fire Wednesday by activists who fear that dangerous new microbes would be created there.

…“I grew up eating this,” said Howard Kim, the manager of Dan Sung Sa, as he dipped his spoon into the briny broth. “It’s more common in Korea, but you can still find it in markets or drinking spots like here.” Beondegi, he said, was one of the first dishes that was added to the menu of this late-night Korean bar (also known as a soju bar) in Oakland.

…The board approved the closure of Doyle Park in the early morning hours of March 15. Board members supporting the decision cited years of declining enrollment and poor academic performance. But last week, a San Francisco-based civil rights law group demanded that the board rescind its decision because of the crucial vote cast by trustee Tad Wakefield. He had acknowledged at the meeting two weeks ago that he had expressed interest in having his two young children attend the charter school.


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