Monday Must Reads: Lawmakers Seek to Reform Payday Lending; Yosemite Valley May Get Major Facelift


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News stories that East Bay progressives and environmentalists shouldn’t miss:

1. Lawmakers in Sacramento this week will consider legislation that would reform payday lending in California in an effort to curb triple-digit interest rates that exploit low-income residents, the Mercury News reports. The Democratic-sponsored bill would limit the number of payday loans that any one person can take in a year, and would require payday lenders to more closely scrutinize the finances of their customers. The powerful payday loan industry is vowing to fight the bill.

2. The National Park Service is considering an ambitious plan for Yosemite Valley that seeks to restore and expand natural habitat surrounding the Merced River, the LA Times$ reports. The Merced Wild and Scenic River plan also likely would reduce heavy traffic in the valley by eliminating some attractions, such as swimming pools, bike, horse, and raft rentals, and an ice skating rink. The proposal also would restore 200 acres of meadows and install new trails, boardwalks, and more camping sites.

3. Caltrans’ own auditor strongly criticized the company that supplied large bolts for the new Bay Bridge and yet the agency went ahead and purchased the bolts anyway, the SacBee$ reports. More than thirty of the giant bolts snapped earlier this year, creating questions as to whether the $6 billion span can withstand a major earthquake. In 2007, a Caltrans audit ripped Ohio-based Dyson Corp. for its practices, and yet the agency went ahead with the bolt deal a year later.

4. Oakland schools Superintendent Tony Smith, who announced his resignation earlier this month, said he considered staying on the job and commuting to Chicago after his father-in-law became ill, the CoCo Times reports. Smith said he thought of sending his wife and kids to help take care of her father, but then decided that he didn’t want to be separated from his family and wanted a stable household for his kids — something he didn’t have as a child.

5. And the Chron had an excellent story over the weekend about Richmond’s Ceasefire violence prevention program and how it has helped lower the city’s high crime rate.

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