Gov. Jerry Brown made his first campaign pitch in releasing his 2012-13 budget proposal, telling Californians they must choose between paying higher taxes or accepting cuts that would result in three weeks less school, higher college tuition fees and fewer staff to patrol the state’s scenic forests and beaches.

The Democratic governor projected the state’s budget shortfall for the fiscal year starting July 1 at $9.2 billion, much more manageable than the $26.6 billion deficit the Legislature closed for the current year.

City of Oakland officials and Occupy Oakland protesters laid the groundwork for building trust at a meeting at City Hall on Thursday afternoon, following weeks of contentious incidents in West Oakland and on Frank Ogawa Plaza that have led to 40 arrests.The first steps toward building that trust, members of the Occupy Oakland Interfaith group told city officials, involve helping to get the 16 protesters still in custody released.

The meeting was unprecedented, in that it was the first time city officials and protesters formally discussed issues involving the ongoing Occupy Oakland protests. It also came about after a tense scene where at least 80 protesters tried to occupy City Hall in response to a raid last night at Frank Ogawa Plaza that resulted in 12 arrests. Two more protesters were arrested Thursday afternoon, the reason for which was not know before press time.

San Francisco Sheriff-elect Ross Mirkarimi is under investigation by San Francisco police after a neighbor called police to report an alleged domestic violence incident involving his wife, Eliana Lopez, a former Venezuelan telenovela star and the mother of his young son.

Mirkarimi, through an intermediary, declined comment, but a source close to the couple tells us they maintain the neighbor overreacted and is misinformed.

Two suspected gang members have been ordered to stand trial on kidnapping, gang rape, carjacking and numerous other felony charges in connection with a 2008 attack in which a Richmond woman was left beaten, bloodied and naked.

Humberto Hernandez Salvador, 34, and 18-year-old Robert Ortiz were each held to answer at a preliminary hearing Wednesday to 14 felony charges, as well as numerous charge enhancements that allege they raped the woman for the benefit of a gang and caused great bodily injury. Both men face life in prison if convicted.

Salvador is also charged with a hate crime enhancement for making numerous references to the lesbian victim’s sexuality during the rape, prosecutor Dana Filkowski said. Two other defendants have already taken plea deals in the case and are scheduled to be sentenced in May.

Spectators can watch all the surfers’ big waves and horrific spills of the Mavericks Invitational surf contest on a free webcast at or at a festival where fans can meet the surfers, contest organizers said at a meeting Thursday.

Rocky Raynor, a board member of the Mavericks Invitational, said at a pre-event safety meeting at the Half Moon Bay Yacht Club that spectators would be blocked from the beach and cliff to protect spectators’ safety and to prevent erosion on the cliff that overlooks the big-wave surf spot Mavericks.

A baby bison in Golden Gate Park died after being found with three broken ribs following an incident in which a small dog got into the bison paddock, an intrusion that may have spooked the animal and prompted it to slam into a fence or tree, officials said Thursday.

Park patrol officers found the dog, identified as a toy breed, running inside the back of the paddock at about 9 a.m. Wednesday, said officials with the Recreation and Park Department. The dog’s handler was trying to coax out the dog, which appeared to have burrowed under the paddock fence, officials said.

Amazon really doesn’t want to collect sales tax. The Seattle-based company has now spent $5.25 million to try to put a measure on the June 2012 ballot that would repeal a law requiring online retailers to collect sales tax.

According to newly released campaign filings, Amazon made a $2.25 million campaign contribution on Aug. 10. That’s on top of $3 million the online retailer contributed to the initiative in July.

Bay Area residents now have another fast lane on the information superhighway.

AT&T announced Thursday it has launched a new higher-speed wireless network. Using so-called LTE technology, the network promises to deliver Web pages, email and other Internet data up to 10 times faster than the company’s older 3G network.


A.M. Splash: Gov. Brown: Pass Taxes or Face Cuts; Suspects in Richmond Gang Rape Ordered to Trial; Concerns Over Mavericks Safety 6 January,2012Gabriel Coan

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