Friday Must Reads: A’s President Billy Beane Revealed as Huge Water Waster; State Political Watchdog Clamps Down on Soft Money Groups


Stories you shouldn’t miss:

Billy Beane.
  • Billy Beane.
1. Oakland A’s President Billy Beane, a Danville resident, is the third largest water guzzler among East Bay MUD customers, and has been using about 6,000 gallons of water a day during the state’s punishing drought, the Bay Area New Group$ reports, citing newly released records from East Bay MUD. The largest water waster was George Kirkland, a former Chevron vice chairman and executive vice president who also lives in Danville. Normally, water districts keep the identities of big water wasters secret, but East Bay MUD decided to disclose the records because Beane and others violated the district’s new cap of using no more than 1,000 gallons a day.

2. The state’s main political watchdog agency adopted new rules that are designed to clamp down on so-called independent expenditure committees — soft money groups that seek to elect favored candidates and are often suspected of illegally coordinating with those candidates, the SacBee$ reports. The new regulations from the state Fair Political Practices Commission place the burden on candidates to prove that they’re not illegally coordinating with outside committees, which have exerted increasing influence over local and state elections.

3. UC President Janet Napolitano has convened a blue ribbon panel to review UC’s sexual harassment policies and discipline procedures in the wake of a recent scandal involving noted Cal astronomer Geoff Marcy, the Chron reports. The university came under heavy fire for allowing Marcy to keep teaching even though its own investigation concluded that he had violated campus harassment rules. Marcy resigned earlier this week amid the furor.

4. Federal climate scientists raised the odds of a wet winter for the Bay Area and Northern California due to the strong El Niño weather pattern forming off the West Coast, the Mercury News$ reports. Scientists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have been saying for months that El Niño would most likely impact Southern California but were not sure about Northern California. The new forecast calls for a 73 percent chance of average or above average rainfall for the region from Humboldt County to San Jose.

5. In perhaps a sign of things to come, flash-flooding caused massive mudslides and the closure of a portion of Interstate 5 last night in the mountains north of Los Angeles, the AP reports (via SFGate).

6. And SeaWorld has decided to sue the California Coastal Commission over new rules that ban the amusement park from breeding orcas in captivity, the LA Times$ reports. The new regulations were attached to SeaWorld’s request to expand, but park officials say they will eventually lead to the end of killer whale shows, because Seaworld is also prohibited from capturing wild orcas. Animal rights activists have been trying to shut down the orca shows at SeaWorld for years, arguing that they’re cruel.