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May 10, 2013

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News Panel: OPD Chief Resigns, Prison Realignment, and PG&E Penalty

The sudden announcement by Oakland Police Chief Howard Jordan that he would step down immediately for medical reasons took everyone by surprise. A veteran of the OPD, Jordan has led the force for a turbulent 19 months, taking the reins after Chief Anthony Batts resigned. This latest shake-up leaves city leaders, the police force, and the community all battling the city's rising crime rate, in a state of shock. Assistant Chief Anthony Toribio has been appointed interim chief while a national search begins for Jordan's replacement.

Former Lt. Governor and 2014 GOP gubernatorial candidate Abel Maldonado hopes to get a measure on the November, 2014 ballot to end prison realignment. The program took effect in 2012, and shifts low level offenders to city and county supervision to save the state money. Gov. Brown is in the hot seat as a court order mandates a reduction of the prison population by more than 100,000 inmates by the end of this year. Critics say realignment and the early release of prisoners will create a public safety issue.

PG&E faces a potential $2.25 billion fine against PG&E September 9, 2010 gas pipeline explosion in San Bruno that left 8 people dead and an entire neighborhood destroyed. That's the recommendation of the Safety and Enforcement Division of the California Public Utilities Commission. If approved, the fine would be the largest ever by a state regulator. Jack Hagan, head of the Safety and Enforcement Division, has urged that "every penny of it to go toward making PG&E's system safer." PG&E Chairman and CEO Tony Earley calls the proposed fine "excessive" and insists that it would make improving the gas system much more difficult financially.

Guests:

  • Matthai Kuruvila, San Francisco Chronicle
  • Carla Marinucci, San Francisco Chronicle
  • Tom Vacar, KTVU
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W. Kamau Bell Expresses Anger with a Smile

Former Bay Area stand-up comic W. Kamau Bell has made the big time. After being discovered by comedian Chris Rock, Bell is now host of his own show, Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell. It returned this week on the FX Channel for 7 episodes, before going to a daily schedule in the fall. His long running one-man show The Bell Curve: Ending Racism in About an Hour was a local hit. Bell visited San Francisco recently and talked to KQED's Joshua Johnson about how the Bay Area shaped his comedy style and how he manages to bring humor to the subject of race. "As a black person in America, you have to find humor in race. Otherwise you go crazy."

 

Also on KQED.org this week ...

The New Environmentalists: From Chicago to Karoo
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