Morning Splash: Brown Names Consumer Advocate Florio to PUC, State of the Union
- Brown names consumer advocate Mike Florio to PUC (SF Chronicle)
Gov. Jerry Brown on Tuesday appointed a staunch consumer advocate and a law school professor to a powerful state commission that regulates California’s utilities – a panel that has come under intense criticism in the wake of last year’s fatal pipeline explosion in San Bruno. Brown picked Mike Florio and Catherine Sandoval to fill two of three open seats on the California Public Utilities Commission, which oversees utilities that provide electricity, natural gas and water.
- CPUC Foundation to raise money from utilities (Matier & Ross, SF Chronicle)
The California Public Utilities Commission is running a bit short on cash, so it has blessed the creation of a foundation to solicit money from the very companies it is supposed to be keeping an eye on. The idea behind the CPUC Foundation is to have a pool of money to reward deserving staffers, host foreign guests and generally brush up the commission’s image – in other words, to pay for activities not covered by agency coffers.
- Obama Calls for Bipartisan Effort to Fight for U.S. Jobs (NY Times)
President Obama challenged Americans on Tuesday night to unleash their creative spirit, set aside their partisan differences and come together around a common goal of outcompeting other nations in a rapidly shifting global economy.
- San Jose City Council OKs pension plan (San Jose Mercury News)
he San Jose City Council decided Tuesday that the Social Security program serving nearly all Americans isn’t good enough for city workers to retire on, despite soaring pension costs that have driven the city’s 10th straight budget shortfall to a staggering $110 million. Asked to suggest what a reduced retirement benefit might be for future city workers to contain costs, the council voted unanimously to maintain a pension system that Mayor Chuck Reed said is “better than Social Security.” The council approved the cost target that the city manager sought for a new pension benefit, which would mirror that of Social Security. But the council also signaled it would be willing to consider something higher.
- In Oakland’s public schools, employee raises — and program cuts — are on the table (Oakland Tribune)
Oakland principals are being asked to trim their schools’ budgets for next year by 7 percent. Layoffs are a possibility, too, as the district prepares to cut its expenses by $12 million. But the budget projections to be shared at Wednesday’s school board meeting come with a trade off — a 2 percent raise for all Oakland school district employees.
- Oakland opens waiting list for Section 8 vouchers (SF Chronicle)
Oakland’s housing authority opened up its waiting list Tuesday for Section 8 housing vouchers, drawing thousands for a coveted spot in line. The only way to sign up was over a computer, so across the city, hundreds jammed into city libraries to fill out the forms in the hope that they might eventually get a chance to live in subsidized housing.
- City, school leaders aim to turn a violent area of Oakland into a safe haven (Oakland Tribune)
…In the aftermath of the Oakland Police Department layoffs, ongoing city and school district budget cuts and a bad economy, local agencies have fewer resources at their disposal to tackle such pervasive problems. But on Tuesday, Oakland’s mayor, superintendent of schools and police chief said they would work together on a new initiative to protect those four schools, pay extra attention to students who are at risk of dropping out, and build trust between students, families and the police.
- Quan defends legal adviser, calls Russo accusations insulting (Oakland Tribune)
Mayor Jean Quan denied Tuesday sharing any confidential city information with an attorney and friend who has been advising her, saying City Attorney John Russo’s suggestion that she may be spilling secrets was “frankly, insulting.” Quan said she’s been caught in the middle of a fight between Russo, who has proposed a controversial gang injunction targeting the Nortenos in the Fruitvale district, and her friend Dan Siegel, a prominent opponent of the injunction who has volunteered to advise her as she takes charge of the city.
- Santa Clara County officials pledge big changes to juvenile justice (San Jose Mercury News)
Santa Clara County officials announced far-reaching plans to remake the local juvenile justice system this week, pledging to keep the youngest offenders out of jail and ensure that all others are handled differently than adult criminals. In his State of the County address Tuesday, Supervisor Dave Cortese said his goal is to “put juvenile hall out of business” by eventually raising the age limit for entry to 16. While current board policy discourages entry for those 12 and younger, county officials have been stung in recent years by Mercury News reports that children as young as 10 had been incarcerated.
- Marin County bans plastic bags, imposes 5-cent paper bag fee (Marin Independent Journal)
Plastic bags were outlawed at grocery store checkout counters in unincorporated Marin by the Board of Supervisors amid a standing ovation from environmental advocates. The county board voted 4-0 on Tuesday to approve the ban and impose a 5-cent charge on paper bags. Supervisor Hal Brown was absent. A plastic booster group, saying the county is proceeding without studying environmental impacts of its action, promptly pledged to file a lawsuit blocking the ban.
- 34th America’s Cup match to begin Sept. 7, 2013 (SF Examiner)
he Golden Gate Yacht Club has scheduled the 34th America’s Cup match for Sept. 7-22, 2013, on San Francisco Bay. The match, which will pit the American defender against a foreign challenger, will once again be best-of-9.
- Google will hire at least 6,000 workers in 2011 (San Jose Mercury News)
Google said Tuesday that 2011 will be its biggest hiring year ever, an effort that would have the company hiring more than 6,200 workers around the world and at least 2,000 in the Bay Area, in what economists called an optimistic sign for the region’s halting economic recovery. With those plans, Google would boost its work force by at least 25 percent in a single year to more than 30,000 employees, nearly triple the company’s size at the end of 2006. Google would then be more than twice as big as Yahoo and more than six times bigger than the company that has become its most formidable competitor — Facebook.
- Santa Rosa grapples with $100 million pension shortage (Santa Rosa Press Democrat)
Santa Rosa’s pension reform task force kicked off its work Tuesday with a sobering revelation that city pension obligation is underfunded by $100 million. The figure, an estimate provided by interim chief financial officer Bruce McConnell, underscores the scale of the financial challenge facing the city and the tall order before the task force as it grapples with ways to fix the system.
- Health spending isn’t helping state’s inmates (SF Chronicle)
A federal receiver appointed to control mismanagement of inmate health care dramatically increased spending in California’s prisons but has so far failed to significantly improve conditions for sick and injured convicts, a state Assembly committee has concluded.More than $82 million was spent to plan construction projects that were largely abandoned, and that was only a fraction of the amount charged to California taxpayers, according to a report by the Assembly Committee on Accountability and Administrative Review.
- AG Kamala Harris backs state in Sikh’s lawsuit over beard (SF Examiner)
Three days after she was sworn in as the first Indian-American elected to statewide office, Attorney General Kamala Harris backed a state agency that denied a Sikh man a job because of his beard.
- Forces of Nature Are Working to Destroy Ocean Beach (Bay Citizen)
Ocean Beach is one of San Francisco’s most uncertain recreational spots, its permanence in question as shifting sands and sea level rise threaten to change its dimensions and even existence.