Morning News for Tuesday, April 2nd
A fifth tree-sitter has up a tree in the continuing protests against the Willits Bypass, stopping work again.
Meanwhile, the treesitter known as Falcon, reports that he’s sighted birds in the trees, white breasted nuthatchs.
SOLLV has compiled a long list of CalTrans violations of mitigation agreements, permits, etc., however, there seems to be no governmental body that will enforce them.
I’ll post them to the kzyx news blog shortly.
The California Supreme court held recently that the California Voting Rights Act approved by the Legislature in 2002 created a higher standard for competitiveness that the California Citizens Redistricting Commission should have relied on to draw districts with as much inter-party parity as possible.
The court reasoned that the Commission should have drawn districts much differently to foster the competitive elections voters were promised in Proposition 11. The court's ruling seems only to apply to Assembly and Senate districts, effective with the 2014 elections.
While lawyers scrambled to decipher the court's rationale and determine whether the ruling could be appealed to the Supreme Court of the United States, there is speculation that the ruling will make at least ten senate districts more competitive for Republican candidates.
Two-dozen primarily northern California conservation and community organizations are joining together to take on the California Department of Transportation. The Caltrans Watch coalition cites wasteful spending, institutionalized disregard of environmental regulations designed to protect natural resources, and a pattern of refusal to address local community concerns. A dozen of the groups are calling on Caltrans to halt construction on the controversial Willits Bypass project in Mendocino County.
“How can Caltrans squander $350 million on five unnecessary highway widening projects in Northern California, with severe environmental impacts?” asked Jeff Miller of the Center for Biological Diversity. “Where’s the oversight and accountability to rein in the pervasive problems at Caltrans?”
“Caltrans is running roughshod over the North Coast,” said Natalynne Delapp of the Environmental Protection Information Center.
Despite a pending lawsuit filed by conservation groups challenging the Willits Bypass , Caltrans has stated its intention to cut down mature oak forests, remove brush and destroy riparian vegetation along critical salmon streams before the case can be heard in federal court this summer.
The Caltrans Watch coalition includes about 30 different groups, including EPIC, Center for Biological Diversity and the Mendocino Sierra Club.
The Willits man accused of torturing and killing his grandfather a year ago changed his not-guilty plea to one of not guilty by reason of insanity Friday in Mendocino Superior Court.
Kenneth Wilkinson, 23, could face life in prison without parole if he is convicted of killing his 84-year-old grandfather, Richard Mel Wilkinson.
The change could delay the May 6 trial, as Assistant DA Paul Sequeira and Public Defender Linda Thompson, who represents Wilkinson, consider how many expert witnesses the court should appoint for his trial.
Sequeira said there may not be enough time for them to prepare for the May 6 trial.
Judge John Behnke told the attorneys to research the question and report back April 12.