Friday Must Read: Hate Crimes Against Latinos Rise; High Court Takes Up Redevelopment



Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. Hate crimes against Latinos surged in California last year, jumping nearly 47 percent, the CoCo Times reports, citing newly released data from the state Attorney General’s Office. The increase in hate crimes came at a time when anti-immigrant sentiment has been growing nationwide. Overall, however, the total number of hate crimes in the state remained steady in 2010, and even decreased against gays and Jews. Blacks in California continue to be the victim of the highest percentage of hate crimes.

2. In Oakland this week, a gay musician was the victim of a hate crime, as he and a bandmate were beaten outside Club Paradiso, The Bay Citizen reports. The musician, Brontez Purnell, said they were attacked by two black men with dreadlocks, who shouted anti-gay slurs and told them that if they were “in Jamaica, they’d be dead.” Oakland reported fifteen total hate crimes last year.

3. The Alameda County District Attorney’s Office filed murder charges against a suspected gang member for allegedly killing a 3-year-old boy earlier this week in a drive-by shooting, the Trib and Chron report. Lawrence C. Denard, 26, of Pittsburg is accused of murdering the toddler while shooting at rival gang members on Monday on International Boulevard. Oakland police, who swarmed the East Bay in search of the boy’s killer, are still looking for the getaway driver.

4. Governor Jerry Brown’s plan to force redevelopment agencies to pay the state $1.7 billion this year is being taken up by the California Supreme Court, which is expected to rule on the issue in January, the CoCo Times and Chron report. Numerous cities filed suit to block the governor’s plan, arguing that it violates Prop 22, a statewide measure approved by voters last year that prohibits the state from raiding local coffers. If the cities win, then Brown and legislative Democrats will have to find another way to balance the state’s budget.

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5. A Standard & Poor’s executive said yesterday that the company downgraded the nation’s credit rating in part because some Congressional leaders were prepared to let the United States default on some if its debts, Politico reports. The S&P official didn’t call out the Republican Party by name, but it was GOP members, including presidential candidate Michele Bachmann, who were against raising the nation’s debt-ceiling, a position that would have forced the country to default on its debts for the first time in history.

6. In yet another must read, Nobel Prize economist Paul Krugman notes the steep disconnect today between the stock market and Washington’s political elite. He points out that investors are clearly concerned about high unemployment and the weak economy while the nation’s political leaders are obsessed with the federal government’s debt to the point that they’re not only failing to deal with the immediate jobs crisis, but are making it worse.

7. The high school dropout rate in Oakland is 37 percent — more than double the statewide average, the Chron and BANG report, citing new state data. The new data is much more accurate than in previous years because for the first time, school districts around the state are actually tracking each high school student through an ID number instead of guessing whether they dropped out or transferred to another school.

8. AC Transit is the only mass transit system in the Bay Area to suffer ridership declines in the past year, the Merc reports, citing a new analysis by Transform. Mass transit ridership has surged throughout the Bay Area in the past year, and yet AC Transit suffered a 1.5 percent drop.

9. And solar power company Sungevity has decided to remain in Oakland, signing a long-term deal in Jack London Square, the Trib reports. There had been some concern that the growing company would leave the city because it needed a much bigger space to accommodate the two hundred to three hundred new employees it plans to hire this year.