10 brightest ideas of the week: Aug. 24, 2008

Shocking loss proves Olympic cut was misguided, little girl saves newborn sister’s life and a court drags an important witness to the stand.

Bright light of the week

Arnold Schwarzenegger

What: The governor offered a compromise spending plan for the state that would temporarily put a 1 percent sales-tax increase on the table along with additional cuts.

Why: Schwarzenegger’s compromise is promising amid the loggerheads in Sacramento between the Democrats (against any cuts) and the Republicans (against any new taxes).

What’s next: Someone needs to budge — the state is the last in the nation with a fiscal year beginning July 1 to not have a signed budget. Also, the state budget deficit of $15.2 billion is not going to erase itself.

10 brightest ideas of the week

Silver lining

1| Dominant U.S. loses in Olympic softball title game.

The details: In a taste of bittersweet irony, the American softball team lost to Japan 3-1 in the Beijing Olympics gold-medal game. The United States had won all three previous golds since softball became an Olympic sport in 1996 and had won its previous 22 games on this stage, many by the mercy rule. Beijing is the last Olympics for softball after the International Olympic Committee voted to cut that sport and baseball from its agenda for the 2012 London Games and beyond. One of the reasons? The Americans were too dominant in softball. Maybe this loss will help bring softball back in the future.

Saving her sister

2| Girl saves life of just-born sibling.

The details: An 11-year-old girl’s concern for her mother helped save the life of her newborn sister. The girl saw her mother bleeding in the bathroom, then go outside and discard something in a trash can. The little girl inspected the container, saw a baby and summoned help in time to save the newborn.

Not above the law

3| Portland officer busted for illegally parking.

The details: Portland police Officer Chadd Stensgaard, who parked his patrol car illegally while making a dinner-break stop at a Japanese restaurant, must pay a $35 fine. Oregon law allows emergency responders to park in no-parking zones when responding to emergencies or chasing suspects. A sushi break apparently is not considered an emergency.

Pay cuts halted

4| State employees to keep pay rate.

The details: A judge has temporarily halted Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s plan to slash about 140,000 state employee’s pay to the federal minimum wage of $6.55 per hour. The judge ordered the cuts to be suspended until a Sept. 12 hearing. The governor’s misguided plan was an attempt to close a $15.2 billion state budget deficit.

Iraq withdrawal

5| U.S., Iraq move toward a timetable.

The details: A preliminary plan agreement to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq has garnered support from both governments. The draft agreement with Iraq would link the removal of troops to achievement of certain security milestones. This proposal sounds like a way for the Iraqis to start taking over more control of the country while still making sure security needs are provided.

Important witness

6| Eyewitness to fatal event dragged to court.

The details: The police were slow in issuing arrest warrants in the case of a couple who are suspected in the beating death of their housemate, allowing the duo to slip away to Mexico. Now that the two are in court, an uncooperative witness failed to show up a few times. This time, the prosecutor asked the judge for the police to hold the man until he testified in court.

Making the grade

7| Local colleges top list of good schools.

The details: Stanford University has again made it onto the list of the top 10 colleges in the nation. The school, which tied for fourth, was accompanied on the list by UC Berkeley, which was the No. 1 public university in the nation. Having top-tier schools in the region helps the Bay Area remain a stronghold for innovative businesses.

Land bailout

8| Bill would aid Half Moon Bay.

The details: In the ongoing saga of a lawsuit by a developer against Half Moon Bay, a new piece of legislation by state Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco-San Mateo, would give the city $10 million in state park-bond money to pay for the land. Yee said another bill to bail out the city was dying at the state Capitol and his bill would mean Half Moon Bay would be stuck with an $8 million bill for the land, not $18 million.

Garage revamps

9| City re-evaluates how its parking facilities are run.

The details: It turns out that The City’s aging parking garages are in need of some fixes. Luckily, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency seems willing to negotiate new contracts for companies to take over some of the day-to-day operations of the garages. The plan would help provide better fiscal management, which would mean more money for The City.

Doctor is in

10| Court rules doctors cannot discriminate.

The details: The California Supreme Court ruled that doctors cannot invoke their religious beliefs as a reason to deny service to gays or lesbians. The unanimous decision by the justices said antidiscrimination obligations trump any free-speech right or religious exemption.

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