- Much-maligned warning system again attacked in wake of Chevron refinery fire in Richmond (Contra Costa Times)
Residents, environmentalists and elected officials in the region's refinery belt took aim again at Contra Costa's community warning system Tuesday, citing reports of spotty alerts, silent sirens and tardy phone calls following Monday's massive Chevron refinery fire that sent hundreds of people to hospitals. In a county that produces more hazardous materials per capita and square mile than any other county in the state, critics questioned whether Contra Costa County and its four oil refineries have an adequate warning system.
- Santa Clara County approves, San Jose rejects, sales tax measures (SJ Mercury News)
Both Santa Clara County and San Jose officials argue they need new taxes to restore public services pared by years of budget deficits, but while county officials Tuesday agreed to ask voters in November for an additional sales tax, city leaders decided against a similar move. The county board of supervisors cited concerns about declining state and federal funding and said they have cut costs as they voted 4-0 vote to put an eighth cent countywide sales tax on the November ballot. Supervisor Mike Wasserman was absent.
- SF mayor announces antiviolence strategy (SF Chronicle)
On a night designed to draw together communities to curb crime, Mayor Ed Lee visited one of the most violence-prone areas of San Francisco on Tuesday and talked about kids and jobs. He made no mention to the crowd at a National Night Out event in the city's Bayview neighborhood of his public announcement earlier in the day that he was dropping his consideration of a stop-and-frisk program. The controversial law enforcement technique is likened to racial profiling and is blamed for undercutting community policing, the approach the city has been trying to advance for years.
- False alarm at Martinez refinery (SF Chronicle)
Residents of Martinez were briefly told to shelter in place Wednesday after the Shell refinery apparently accidentally initiated an emergency warning, officials said.
A two-hour discussion by the police union about whether to admonish their boss waffled briefly before ending with an "overwhelming" decision against such a move Tuesday, with leaders saying it would have been an unnecessary distraction from more pressing issues. Although Chief Chris Moore avoids a dreaded "no confidence" vote, union officials stressed their decision should not be viewed as support for Moore's leadership or the City Council they've clashed with over layoffs, cuts and officer pay and benefits.
In California, by a 36 to 27 percent ratio, young African-American men without a high school diploma or its equivalent are more likely to be found languishing in prison than working a regular job. Young Latino men are roughly 40 percent more likely than white men to wind up serving time in an adult prison. And African-American kindergartners are more than three times as likely as their white playmates to believe they lack the ability to succeed in school. These are just some of the disturbing findings that will be brought to light in a report Wednesday, when the California Assembly's Select Committee on the Status of Boys and Men of Color presents its working action plan at its sixth and final hearing in Sacramento.
Six months after one of California's top wildlife officials faced a fury after shooting a mountain lion in Idaho, fellow commissioners are expected Wednesday to remove Dan Richards as president of the state Fish and Game Commission. But the unabashed hunting enthusiast isn't going down without a fight. "This originates from the enviro-terrorists being threatened by me," Richards said in one of his first interviews since his mountain lion hunt enraged environmentalists.
In the wake of mass murders in Colorado and Wisconsin, a California lawmaker is pushing to close a "loophole" allowing owners of military-style guns to sidestep the state's assault weapons ban. Sen. Leland Yee is gaining support from top Democrats in a bid to ban devices that allow magazines of ammunition to be reloaded so quickly that semiautomatic guns can be fired almost like assault weapons.
It was "troubling" that no vessels stopped to assist a Belvedere-based yacht during a fatal racing accident near the Farallon Islands in April, but it is unlikely their assistance could have prevented the deaths of five crew members, a safety panel reported this week. In a lack of "prudent seamanship" the yacht, Low Speed Chase, steered too close to the Farallones shore — closer than almost any other vessel among some two dozen whose courses were tracked — before it was struck by a massive wave, the panel stated in its report.