Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. Oakland’s violent crime rate plummeted by 14.1 percent in 2009 — nearly triple the national average, the Trib reports. In addition, violent crime is plunging at an even greater rate this year. However, plans to lay off at least 180 police officers to bridge a $30 million budget gap could reverse the downward trend.

2. State Democratic leaders are proposing to raise taxes by $4.9 billion, including increasing corporate taxes by $2.05 billion, to balance California’s budget, the Chron reports. Governor Schwarzenegger, however, likely would veto such a plan if it gets through the Legislature.

3. Meg Whitman has reopened a commanding lead over Steve Poizner, 54 percent to 27 percent, California Watch reports, citing a new poll by Survey USA. Whitman had been ahead by just nine points last week.

4. Carly Fiorina has surged into a big lead over Tom Campbell to be the Republican nominee for US Senator. According to the Survey USA poll, Fiorina leads 46 percent to 23 percent.

5. In more bad news for state and local governments, California property tax revenues likely will continue to decline because of a glut of foreclosed homes that haven't sold yet, the Mercury News reports.

6. The CoCo Times has created a handy database for public employee salaries around the Bay Area again this year. In general, firefighters are the best paid employees, and it turns out that the Alameda County Fire Department has the highest average salary at $144,000 a year.

7. PG&E has now pumped $44 million into the Proposition 16 campaign, Capitol Weekly reports. Prop. 16, on the June 8 ballot, would make it nearly impossible for cities to jump into the public power market and increase renewable energy use.

8. Anti-gay marriage activists are fighting hard to kill a proposal to allow cameras in the courtroom for closing arguments in the federal Prop. 8 trial, the Chron reports.

9. And if you’re wondering what happened to Van Jones, the Oakland environmentalist who resigned from the Obama White House after he was linked to 9/11 Truthers, the Chron catches up with him today.