A political scandal involving sex tapes and drugs makes international headlines. The San Francisco Giants clinch the World Series. Again. Federal prosecutors declare all-out war against medicinal marijuana providers. There was no shortage of drama in local news in 2012.
Here are my top 10 stories. I welcome yours at http://www.insidebayarea.com.
Oakland public safety crisis
As of Friday, 130 homicides had been recorded in the city -- a five-year record. Mayor Jean Quan fessed up that she provided the public with flawed crime data yet continued to defend her discredited "100-block" violence reduction plan all the same. A disgruntled former student at Oikos University fatally shot seven people and wounded three others at the nursing school. Federal Judge Thelton Henderson seized ultimate control of the Oakland Police Department. The judge will appoint a full-time "compliance director" -- who reports to him -- to oversee court-mandated civil rights reforms stemming from the Riders' lawsuit. On Thursday, Oakland officials announced that they were hiring super cop William J. Bratton as a consultant. Bratton has been credited with overseeing major crime drops in Los Angeles and New York. It's a great public relations move for Oakland officials, who have come under withering criticism for not addressing violent crime. But only time will tell if Bratton can
Chevron refinery fire
A massive fire at the Richmond refinery spewed black smoke across the East Bay. Bay Area Air Quality Management District officials came under scathing criticism for sending out false assurances that there were no significant health concerns. In fact, the agency had not even measured particulates that could have been associated with health complaints in the fire's aftermath. More than 5,000 people claiming health problems have filed suit against the oil company.
Federal prosecutors went after the medical marijuana industry with both barrels. The feds raided Oaksterdam University in Oakland, effectively driving marijuana legalization advocate Richard Lee out of business. Then U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag filed asset forfeiture proceedings against the landlords of Harborside Health Center in an effort to shut down the nation's largest medical marijuana dispensary with branches in Oakland and San Jose. The battle wages on in court.
Oakland Army Base redevelopment
The Oakland City Council approved a series of agreements to launch a $1 billion redevelopment of the long idle Oakland Army Base. It will become a logistics and warehousing center for port operations.
Alameda County Supervisor Nadia Lockyer meltdown
Lockyer, wife of State Treasurer Bill Lockyer, resigned amid a drug and sex scandal that began with her calling 911 from a Newark motel room. She told police that her lover, a man with a history of meth-related charges, had assaulted her. Lockyer's life quickly spiraled out of control -- culminating with her arrest in Orange County on methamphetamine and child endangerment charges. Bill Lockyer has filed for divorce.
Tragedy in Berkeley Hills
A mentally ill Oakland man in search of his imaginary fiancee wandered onto Peter Cukor's property and beat the 67-year-old Berkeley Hills resident to death. The horrific event highlighted major cracks in the state's mental health care system. Cukor's family has filed suit against the city of Berkeley, alleging that police failed to respond to Cukor's call for help.
Strip club scandal
Two top Port of Oakland officials -- Executive Director Omar Benjamin and Maritime Director James Kwon -- resigned in scandal. This after news reports that they had spent $4,500 in taxpayer money at a strip club in Houston in 2008. After an internal audit found other instances of irregular spending, port officials pledged to clean up their act.
Good news in Fremont
The California Energy Commission voted to give Tesla Motors, Inc. $10 million to help produce an electric-powered vehicle at its Fremont plant. Tesla plans to spend about $50 million to manufacture the Model X, an electric-powered SUV that is supposed to travel 250 miles on a single charge.
San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi saga
Mirkarimi pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of false imprisonment stemming from a New Year's Eve argument in which he grabbed and bruised his wife's arm. Mayor Ed Lee suspended him but couldn't muster enough votes on the Board of Supervisors to oust him.
San Francisco Giants World Series champs
The boys in orange and black rolled over the Detroit Tigers to win their second World Series in three seasons and make us proud again.
Have a happy and prosperous New Year!