8:51am

Thu March 8, 2012
Morning News Roundup

Connecting the Dots: Top news stories for Thursday, March 8, 2012

A new study issued today by San Jose State University reports that building a high-speed rail system in California is likely to create jobs and support population growth in both major and mid-size cities, but only if it's done well. It will take strategic planning around station location, links to other kinds of transportation, and effective zoning and land use policies, not just a "build-it-and-they-will-come" approach...

But voters are not yet convinced. According to a survey released yesterday by the Public Policy Institute of California, while a slight majority approves tax increases to support other priorities like public education, a slight majority opposes a high-speed rail system that would cost the state $100 billion over the next 20 years...

Voters may also have a say in the Republican primary after all, thanks to mixed results on Super Tuesday. June 5, the day when California and four other states cast their ballots, will now make a far bigger difference than anticipated in the presidential race...

Some argue that California's pool of voters should include some felons. A lawsuit filed yesterday by the California League of Women Voters and two other nonprofit groups claims that while felons sent to state prison are not allowed to vote according to California law, this shouldn't apply to felons sent to county jails. Thanks to Governor Brown's realignment plan that began last October, greater numbers of convicted felons are ending up in county systems...

In Oakland, greater numbers of schools are ending up as charters. The Oakland school board has now given ASCEND and Learning Without Limits permission to convert to charter schools on the condition that they purchase custodial, food, and professional development services from the district. This agreement is an effort to reduce the district's projected $800,000 loss if the conversion went ahead as planned...

Planned or not, California continues to lead the country in questionable home loans. Out of the five top metro areas in the U.S. with the highest rates of suspected mortgage fraud, three are in California, according to the U.S. Treasury Department. San Jose is the top-ranked metropolitan area per capita...

And now for something completely different: An upstate New York shipping company is growing mushrooms as packing material. The young company, Ecovative Design, uses mycelium, or mushroom roots, as a key ingredient in their pliable blocks used for shipping goods for such clients as Crate and Barrel and Sealed Air Corp., the creator of Bubble Wrap.
 

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