Morning Splash: PG&E Pressure Spikes, Yudof’s Warning, SmartMeters Coming to SF
- Lawmakers push PG&E to identify spiked gas lines (SF Chronicle)
State lawmakers pressed Pacific Gas and Electric Co. on Wednesday to reveal which of its urban gas transmission lines had been subjected to intentional pressure spikes since 2003, a practice that experts fear could have weakened the pipes. Assemblyman Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, said he met with a top official from the utility, Kent Kauss, and demanded that PG&E tell the public which lines the company had pushed to their legal limits.
- Many experts unfazed by PG&E’s gas pressure hikes (San Jose Mercury News)
Despite recent revelations that PG&E at times has boosted the pressure in its natural gas lines to the legal limit — including the pipeline that exploded in San Bruno — many experts say they don’t regard the practice as unsafe. Instead, they said, the biggest concern after the explosion is whether PG&E has appropriately calculated the maximum operating pressure for its pipes, a subject of an ongoing review by federal and state regulators.
- Yudof warns of a more exclusive UC (SF Chronicle)
The University of California will shut out tens of thousands of qualified students over the next decade as deep budget cuts force the nation’s premier public university to become more exclusive, UC President Mark Yudof told the regents Wednesday in San Diego…Yudof estimated that 20,000 to 30,000 qualified students will be turned away because UC won’t have the money to educate them.
- Police chief’s supporters rally to keep him in Oakland (Oakland Tribune)
Supporters of Police Chief Anthony Batts fired back at critics this week, saying his recently revealed candidacy for the chief’s job in San Jose reflects less that Batts is ready to abandon his work here than it does the city’s failure to help him succeed.
- Court win for same-sex couples seeking benefits (SF Chronicle)
In a victory for gay rights advocates, a federal judge has ruled that state employees in California can sue for discrimination over the federal government’s exclusion of their same-sex spouses from a long-term health care program. U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken of Oakland denied an Obama administration request to dismiss the suit Tuesday and signaled that she is likely to overturn provisions of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, which denies federal benefits to same-sex couples.
- SmartMeter installation to begin soon in S.F. (SF Chronicle)
Pacific Gas and Electric Co.’s controversial SmartMeters are coming to San Francisco. The utility plans to begin widespread installation of the wireless electricity and gas meters within the city during the next few weeks, starting in the Marina district. PG&E mailed letters to Marina residents on Tuesday, notifying them that their old meters would soon be replaced.
- Bay Area traffic no longer among worst 5 in U.S. (SF Chronicle)
For the first time in 28 years, Bay Area drivers can no longer boast of enduring one of the nation’s five worst commutes, according to an annual traffic congestion study.Bay Area congestion, measured by the amount of time spent stuck in slow-moving traffic, is only the nation’s sixth worst, according to the 2010 Urban Mobility Report released today.
- Oakland, Packard children’s hospitals may merge (Andrew S. Ross, SF Chronicle)
Word on the medical street is that Children’s Hospital Oakland may be merging with Packard Children’s Hospital in Palo Alto. “It’s out there that we’re being bought by Packard,” said a knowledgeable source inside the 190-bed Children’s Hospital & Research Center Oakland. Another source connected to both facilities denied reports of an outright acquisition, calling it a “strategic alliance.”
- No time for turf wars, Gov. Jerry Brown tells city leaders (Sacramento Bee)
Few people have been as hostile toward Gov. Jerry Brown’s budget as California city leaders. Ever since the Democratic governor proposed eliminating redevelopment agencies to help balance the budget and direct more money to schools and public safety, cities have responded by pushing projects out the door in emergency meetings to thwart Brown’s plan. But the few hundred city leaders gathered Wednesday at the Hyatt Regency Sacramento were respectful when Brown spoke at their League of California Cities luncheon, never mind the buttons declaring, “Stop the State’s Redevelopment Proposal.”
- Stanford ponders the return of ROTC after nearly four decades (San Jose Mercury News)
…Since the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) ended at Stanford in 1973, students in the military program have had to travel to other schools to get their military training, squeezing in classes in Navigation or Leadership Training alongside calculus, literature and other courses that comprise a well-rounded liberal arts education. But a renewal of ROTC at Stanford and other elite universities is now under consideration, suggesting a reconciliation of two cultures that had grown far apart.
- California leads nation in implementing health care reform (San Jose Mercury News)
On one side of the country, House Republicans this week launched an almost certainly futile effort to undo national health care reform. On the other side, in California, something entirely different is happening: Politicians and health care advocates are moving full speed ahead to put the law into practice.The contrast between the theatrics this week in the nation’s capital and the nuts-and-bolts activity taking place in the nation’s most populous state could hardly be more stark. Delivering on a GOP campaign promise, the House on Wednesday voted 245-189 to repeal the health care reform law. But the movement to overturn the law wholesale is expected to end on the floor of the House, given that Democrats still control the Senate and the White House.
- Oakland has fewest DUI crashes among state’s biggest cities, study says (Oakland Tribune)
n a welcome piece of good news, Oakland has the lowest number of alcohol-involved collisions in the state and the fewest DUI-related arrests, according to a recently released study of the state’s 13 biggest cities by the state’s Office of Traffic Safety. The city, however, didn’t fare well when it came to hit-and-run and pedestrian collisions, coming in with the third-highest ratings, according to the study, which was based on numbers from agencies including the Department of Justice and the California Highway Patrol.