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Daily news roundup for Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Scott Strazzante / The Chronicle
Maya Siskin-Lavine, 16, and her mother, Sharon Siskin, listen to a speaker at the Stop Harassing meeting on Sunday. About 60 to 70 Berkeley High students take part in the group.

Here's what's happening in the Bay Area, as curated by KALW news:

Legislators Draft Bills to Curb Use of Psych Meds on Foster Kids // KQED

"Almost one in four teenagers living in foster care in California is prescribed some type of psychotropic medication, found an investigation by the San Jose Mercury News. And of those teens, 60 percent are being prescribed anti-psychotics.

"The reliance on these drugs is also quite costly for the state. Psych meds accounted for 72 percent of the Medi-Cal spending on foster children over the past 10 years, according to the paper’s analysis.

"Now several lawmakers are gearing up to introduce legislation aimed at curbing the use of psychiatric drugs in the foster care system."


Berkeley High girls say sex harassment goes unchecked // SF Gate

"After years of inaction by school administrators, Berkeley High School students are pushing to change what they say is a pervasive culture of sexual harassment — even assault — that too often goes unchecked by classmates and staff at the city’s public schools, a claim now under federal investigation as well.

"The federal Office of Civil Rights has launched an investigation into whether the school district has failed to respond adequately to such incidents, which under Title IX are a violation of federal law. The investigation was opened in mid-January."


Oakland faces $28 million budget shortfall // Contra Costa Times

"The economic boom that has brought lots of new residents and business to Oakland has not yet turned around the city's finances, a new report finds. The gap is about $50 million of a $500 million total budget plan."


Exploiting Inmates // East Bay Express

"Phone companies and correctional facilities are reaping big profits by charging inmates huge fees to stay connected with their families. Reformers say it needs to stop...

"A phone call from behind bars can cost up to one hundred times the cost of a payphone call. And because a system of perverse incentives allows both telecommunications companies and detention centers to benefit directly from costly phone charges, inmates' calls have grown steadily more expensive in recent years, even as technology advancement and marketplace competition have made communication easier and cheaper for the rest of society."


The Bay Area's Slavery and Sharecropping Legacy  // East Bay Express

"Robert 'Fleetwood' Bowden's new film traces southern plantation workers' migration to the Bay Area.

"The project is the brainchild of Robert Bowden, a rapper and writer who goes by the name Fleetwood. Da Cotton Pickas, Fleetwood's second documentary, primarily focuses on Williams and his journey to the Bay Area, where the minister raised his own family and became involved in community activism. Many others left plantations and migrated from the south to the north and the west in the early-to-mid twentieth century in hopes of finding better economic opportunities — a fact that, Fleetwood said, is unbeknownst to many Bay Area residents."


Oakland Poised to Lead in Protecting Privacy // East Bay Express

"The city council is on the verge of implementing significant citywide reforms aimed at protecting the privacy of its residents, including a first-of-its-kind surveillance equipment ordinance.

"On February 10, the Oakland City Council's Public Safety Committee is poised to vote on a handful of recommendations that, if implemented later by the full council, will significantly protect the right to privacy for city residents in this age of Big Data. Councilmembers will consider a privacy and data retention policy for the scaled-back Port Domain Awareness Center (DAC), drafted by a council-appointed citizens' committee."

Liza got her start in radio with KALW's Audio Academy. Now, she is KALW's econmy reporter and a mentor for in the KALW Audio Academy.