Thursday Must Reads: Gov. Brown Allies Fire Top Environmental Regulator; Feinstein Pushes to Give More NorCal Water to Big Ag

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Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. In a major defeat for environmentalists, Governor Jerry Brown’s appointees spearheaded a successful effort on Wednesday to fire Charles Lester, who was the executive director of the California Coastal Commission and a fierce advocate for protecting the state’s pristine coastline from development. Pro-development forces, led by Brown’s appointees — Martha McClure, Effie Turnbull-Sanders, and Erik Howell — ousted Lester, despite the fact that hundreds of people showed up to the commission’s meeting to plea to keep Lester — and protect the coastline.

Dianne Feinstein.
  • Dianne Feinstein.
2. US Senator Dianne Feinstein has proposed new legislation that would divert more Northern California river water to agribusinesses in the state, the Chron$ reports. The legislation also would earmark $1.3 billion in federal funds for new dams and water recycling plans.

3. Environmental groups have sued the National Park Service, contending that thousands of cows that graze at Point Reyes National Seashore “are causing erosion, polluting waterways with manure, harming endangered salmon and other species, and blocking public access,” the Mercury News$ reports. The groups want the park service to conduct thorough environmental studies of the cattle ranches operating in Point Reyes before they extend the ranches’ leases. The park service, however, said it has no plans to reduce the number of cattle — which now number about 6,000 — at Point Reyes, because cattle ranchers helped establish the park in the first place.


4. Today’s college freshmen are more liberal, less religious, and more committed to civic involvement than their predecessors in the past four decades, the LA Times$ reports, citing a new survey from UCLA researchers. The survey found that “majorities supported same-sex marriage, abortion rights, affirmative action, legalization of marijuana, and equal pay for women.”

5. Strict voter ID laws are resulting in lower voter turnout for minorities and Democrats, the San Diego Union Tribune reports (h/t Rough & Tumble), citing a new study from UC San Diego. The survey found that voter turnout among Democrats has plunged 8.8 percent in states that have enacted the strictest voter ID laws in recent years.

6. An African-American welder on the new Bay Bridge alleges in a lawsuit that his boss dropped “a hangman’s noose next to him and a short time later a co-worker threw him a rope and told him to put it around his neck,” the Chron reports. The welder is suing for race discrimination.

7. State Senator Mike McGuire, D-Healdsburg, introduced legislation that would establish a 15 percent sales tax on medical marijuana in California, the SacBee$ reports. The tax would raise an estimated $150 million in revenues for the state.

8. The FBI is probing an alleged Ponzi scheme at Berkeley wine retailer Premier Cru, which has gone bankrupt and is being sued by numerous customers for failing to deliver on wine purchases, the CoCo Times$ reports.

9. And City of Berkeley inspections of buildings with balconies, outdoor stairways, decks, and landings found that more than four hundred of them need work, Berkeleyside reports. The mass inspection was prompted by the collapse of a rotted wooden deck last year that killed six people.


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