1. Oakland police launched a hate-crime investigation after a noose was left on a city-owned truck at a Public Works Department parking lot, the Trib$ reports. Two African-American city employees discovered the noose — an ugly symbol of lynchings of black people in the South. Public Works employees said it was the second noose left on city property — an earlier one was found in a desk. Interim City Manager Henry Gardner said that if a city employee was responsible for leaving the noose, the worker would be fired immediately.
[jump] 2. The administration of Governor Jerry Brown has decided to delay its $25 billion plan to build two giant water tunnels underneath the fragile Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, saying the environmental impacts of the project need more study, the SacBee$ reports. Last month, the respected Bay Institute released a report stating that the tunnels would siphon off too much freshwater and thus would make the delta too salty for many fish species to survive.
3. The plastic bag industry fooled state legislators by creating a bogus Latino-oriented group that sent letters to lawmakers, urging them to vote against a proposed ban on single-use plastic bags in California, the Mercury News$ reports. Several lawmakers who received letters from the fake group Familias Latinas de California then repeated the letters’ talking points during floor debates at the state Capitol.
4. The US Forest Service is embarking on a sweeping plan to cut down and remove trees from the area burned by the massive Rim Fire last year near Yosemite National Park, the LA Times$ reports. Federal officials say they need to move quickly to remove the burned trees, because they will lose their value as lumber. But environmental groups contend that many of the trees should be left alone because they are creating habitat for a wide-range of species.
5. And the state legislature has sent a bill to the governor that would ban homeowners’ associations from levying fines against residents who have let their lawns turn brown during the drought, the AP reports.