Morning Splash: The Big Storm; Guv Confronts GOP; MUNI Safety Violations; PUC Shenanigans?
- ‘Coldest storm of season’ hits Bay Area; snowball fights in San Jose still possible (San Jose Mercury News)
The Alaska cold front that is threatening to bring snow to San Jose for the first time since 1976 is making its way through Northern California this morning and is expected to reach the South Bay later today, according to the National Weather Service. As of 6 a.m., the cold front had passed through Santa Rosa and was approaching San Francisco, according to forecaster Rick Canepa of the National Weather Service. The cold front is expected to blanket hills and mountain tops with snow, dropping as much as eight inches at higher elevations. Snow levels could drop as low as 100 feet.
- Governor faces off with lawmakers, calls for “tough choices” (Sacramento Bee)
Gov. Jerry Brown has gained plenty of mileage so far out of simple acts. His latest: appearing Thursday before a legislative committee for an hour to sell his budget plan. The Democratic governor urged lawmakers to leave their comfort zones and directed his sternest remarks at Republicans.
- SF Muni made many safety violations, PUC finds (SF Chronicle)
The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency is under investigation for repeatedly violating federal, state and local rail safety regulations, “resulting in unsafe operations and endangering Muni passengers,” according to a state report released Thursday
- San Bruno blast: PUC backs weaker gas spiking rule (SF Chronicle)
California Public Utilities Commission agreed to go forward Thursday with proposed new rules that would allow utilities to wait as long as three months before reporting most illegal pressure spikes on natural gas lines…At Thursday’s commission meeting in San Francisco, Florio said the exemption for intentional spikes had been dropped. Then he, commission President Michael Peevey and Commissioner Timothy Simon adopted the proposal, which would become final after a 45-day public comment period and another vote. In fact, however, the proposal the commission approved – which the agency’s staff did not make available to the public until after the meeting – would require utilities to file immediate reports only for spikes in which pressure soars more than 10 percent above legal limits. That applies both to accidental and intentional incidents…Florio said he was shocked when he realized that the new language relaxed the proposed rules. He said the changes had been delivered to him just before the meeting and that he had time only to scan the proposal before voting.
- Commission recommends rolling back pensions for current state, local workers (Sacramento Bee)
California’s state and local governments should roll back pensions for existing employees, dump guaranteed retirement payouts and put more of the burden for pension benefits on workers, a bipartisan watchdog commission said Thursday. Any attempt to reduce pensions for current workers would prompt a legal battle royal. Still, the 12-member Little Hoover Commission concluded that government pension funds are in such dire financial straits that they’ll never right themselves without cutting into benefits for those working now. The proposal wouldn’t affect benefits drawn by current retirees.
- S.F. Prop. M rent reduction provision struck down (SF Chronicle)
A state appeals court has struck down provisions of a voter-approved San Francisco law that allowed the city’s rent board to reduce payments from tenants whose landlords harassed them. The First District Court of Appeal in San Francisco left intact other parts of Proposition M, a November 2008 measure, but ruled that the city board has no constitutional authority to impose lower rents on landlords who mistreat their tenants or try to coerce them into leaving.
- State action forces Fremont to delay bond issuance (Oakland Tribune)
Fremont’s window for selling redevelopment bonds to pay for a new BART station may have closed just hours before the city was scheduled to issue them. Without the bonds, the city will not have any funding in place for the station, delaying its construction indefinitely. City leaders on Thursday postponed the issuance of as much as $140 million in redevelopment bonds, in response to the California Department of Finance posting a 27-page report late Wednesday that spells out Gov. Jerry Brown’s plan to end the state’s redevelopment program. The document “Redevelopment Agency Dissolution and Succession” includes provisions giving the state as much as three years to “review the validity” and potentially nullify redevelopment projects approved by agencies since the first of the year.
- All of California now linked up to immigration enforcement network (Contra Costa Times)
The federal immigration agency has finally linked all California police agencies to reveal immigrants — legal or not — arrested for violating laws and subject to deportation. The action, to be announced Friday morning in Southern California, enables U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, to tag arrests and travel to all of the state’s county jails to pick up immigrants accused of committing crimes. In essence, local police, willingly or not, have become an arm of the federal immigration agency.
- Twitter, SF Mayor Ed Lee ‘very close’ on deal (Andrew S. Ross, SF Chronicle)
Twitter is “very close” to an agreement to stay, and grow – exponentially – in San Francisco, says Mayor Ed Lee. But it’s “not yet 100 percent.” In an interview at his office Thursday, Lee said Twitter executives intimated last week that an agreement to move from its current digs on Folsom Street into the block-long San Francisco Mart building at Market and 10th streets should be just “weeks away, maybe shorter.”
- State launches effort to collect sales tax on marijuana (Santa Rosa Press Democrat)
The state Board of Equalization wants to make it perfectly clear: Pay sales taxes on marijuana or risk prosecution. “The sale of medical marijuana is not exempt from sales tax,” said board Chairman Jerome E. Horton. Nor do illegal sales exempt people from paying taxes, he said. That’s not new, but the board has launched a new effort to clarify regulations, both for its own employees and medical pot distributors.
- BART board owns up to illegal vote to fire boss (SF Chronicle)
BART directors officially fessed up Thursday to their illegal vote two weeks earlier to fire General Manager Dorothy Dugger – but her fate as head of the transit district remains unclear. The vote to terminate the general manager, taken in a closed session, was quickly rescinded when it became clear it violated state open meeting laws, but neither action was ever reported to the public, as mandated.
- Bailey murder trial will stay in Alameda County (Chauncey Bailey Project)
The Chauncey Bailey murder trial will remain in Alameda County. Alameda County Superior Court Judge Thomas Reardon on Thursday denied a request from Yusuf Bey IV, leader of the defunct Your Black Muslim Bakery, and his co-defendant, bakery member Antoine Mackey, to move the trial because of voluminous pretrial publicity.