Stories you shouldn’t miss:
1. The number of homicides in Oakland, San Francisco, and San Jose jumped dramatically in 2012, the Chron reported. The increase in homicides came at the same time that those three cities experienced significant reductions in the number of police officers they employ. The one major exception to this trend was the City of Richmond, which has seen a dramatic drop in violent crime in recent years, and last year had the lowest number of homicides in more than a decade.warring gangs in the city, the Tribune reported, citing police sources. The rash of homicides prompted Vice Mayor Larry Reid to call for a state of emergency, although he does not appear to have widespread support for that proposal on the city council. The council plans to take up a plan soon to temporarily hire sheriff’s deputies to patrol Oakland streets until the city’s police academies can produce new cops. The council also plans to vote on a proposal to hire William Bratton, the former head of the New York and Los Angeles police departments, to advise Oakland Police Chief Howard Jordan.
3. California dropped to 49th place nationwide in terms of per pupil spending, EdSource reported, citing a new report from Education Week. California’s per pupil spending in 2010, the most recent year in which complete data was available, was 28 percent below the national average.
4. Oakland Council President Pat Kernighan appointed Councilwoman Rebecca Kaplan to replace Councilwoman Desley Brooks on the Coliseum Authority board of directors, the Trib reported. Brooks alleges that Kaplan got the appointment in exchange for voting for Kernighan for council president, but Kaplan said she didn’t ask for the assignment. Kaplan has long been a proponent of keeping the A’s in town, and she backs the plan to build Coliseum City.
5. And UC Berkeley researchers believe that an old fermentation process can turn fast-growing plants into biodiesel that burns cleaner than fossil fuels, the Chron reported. Researchers, however, say it could five to ten years to develop the process for market.