Stories you shouldn’t miss:
1. About 100,000 people are expected to apply for Section 8 vouchers in Oakland this week even though there are currently only 650 of the subsidized housing vouchers available, the Chron reports. Thousands of people jammed into Oakland libraries yesterday to sign up for the vouchers after the city’s housing authority opened its waiting list. About 6,000 people signed up in the first three hours, authority officials said.
2. Gay marriage supporters have asked the California Supreme Court to stay out of the federal case involving Proposition 8, the LA Times reports. A federal appellate panel had asked the state’s high court to intervene and answer the question of whether anti-gay-marriage forces had the legal right to defend Prop 8. But Ted Olson, an attorney representing same-sex couples trying to overturn Prop 8 in federal court, contends that the question of whether the anti-gay-marriage side has legal standing in federal court should be answered by the federal appeals court — not the California Supreme Court.
3. American students are miserable at science — just one out of 100 excels in the subject and just a third nationwide even reaches a basic level of proficiency, the Chron reports, citing the new Nation’s Report Card. And California students are even worse. Students in the state finished tied for dead last with Arizona, Hawaii, and Mississippi. The terrible test scores raise serious doubts about whether the state and the nation will be able to compete globally in the high-tech economy over the long-term.
4. President Obama, in his State of the Union speech last night, called on the nation to respond to this generation’s “Sputnik moment,” saying he will push for investment in clean energy, infrastructure, research, and education, the Chron reports. However, his agenda likely will be blocked by Republicans intent on slashing government spending.
5. Governor Jerry Brown strongly indicated yesterday that he wants stronger oversight of PG&E when he nominated consumer advocates to the California Public Utilities Commission. The Chron reports that Brown selected Mike Florio, a senior attorney of The Utility Reform Network, a consumer watchdog group that has been a frequent critic of PG&E.
6. East Bay union official Berresford “Berry” Bingham was found dead in his West Oakland home yesterday, and his body showed signs of trauma, the Trib reports. Bingham, field director of Service Employees Union Local 1021, represented workers for the City of Oakland, Alameda County, and BART. Bingham also was a former Alameda school board member.
7. The number of East Bay refinery accidents dropped significantly during the past decade, following the enactment of stricter regulations in Contra Costa County, the CoCo Times reports. Oil refiners had opposed the tighter regulations as burdensome and unnecessary.
8. Oakland and San Jose may each get an extra vote on the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, the CoCo Times reports. The 16-member MTC, which oversees transportation funding in the Bay Area, is currently dominated by suburban appointees.
9. And dog and cat lovers who let their pets lick them and sleep with them are at greater risk of contacting several infectious diseases, the SacBee reports, citing research from UC Davis.