Morning Splash: NTSB Opens San Bruno Hearing; Guv Revises Realignment Plan; PG&E’s $25 Cards
- Feds open hearings into San Bruno blast (SF Chronicle)
National Transportation Safety Board officials opened a three-day hearing today into the deadly natural gas explosion in San Bruno, saying they are dedicated to determining what caused the disaster and finding ways to prevent similar blasts from occurring. Deborah Hersman, chairwoman of the safety board, said the agency is still gathering information about what happened, and that the hearing in Washington, D.C., “is a critical component of that work, allowing us to gather additional facts and further develop the record on how and why this pipeline ruptured.”
- Jerry Brown revises local-control plan (SF Chronicle)
Responding to concerns that it would lead to a public safety nightmare, Gov. Jerry Brown has scaled back a key part of his budget proposal that calls for more criminal justice services to be shifted to the local level. Under the revised proposal presented to lawmakers Monday – the most detailed to date – fewer prison inmates could be moved from state lockups to local jails, the state Division of Juvenile Justice would not be entirely eliminated, and local fire agencies would take over responsibility for only a fraction of the wildland areas originally contemplated.
- Muni objects to state criticism of rail lines (SF Chronicle)
The condition of San Francisco’s rail transit system is the worst in the state, says a top official with the California Public Utilities Commission…Last week, the commission announced that it is investigating the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency for a series of alleged violations on rail lines that could imperil public safety and lead to enforcement actions. If the allegations are upheld by an administrative law judge, Muni faces a daily $20,000 fine per violation until the problems are resolved…Muni officials plan to mount an aggressive defense and call the accusations overblown and unfair.
- Oakland gang injunction hearing will not review juvenile records (Oakland Tribune)
Juvenile criminal records of 40 men accused of being gang members will not be admitted as evidence in the ongoing court battle over the proposed Fruitvale district gang injunction, a judge said Monday. The decision pleased attorneys for the defense, who have also hit some road bumps in the preliminary hearing to decide whether the city will forbid the defendants to wear certain colors, gather in public or be outdoors after 10 p.m., with jail time at stake for those who violate the order.
- Voters to decide who pays for new schools (San Jose Mercury News)
Who should pay for schools to serve new housing planned in North San Jose has spawned a fierce electoral battle, with both sides predicting a disastrous scenario if they don’t prevail. The stakes may be high, but those who will determine the outcome are a select few being courted by two warring entities. About 3,000 voters living in North San Jose will decide on a tax measure for new schools. Santa Clara Unified School District is seeking the funding to serve children from as many as 16,000 new homes and apartment units that could be built there.
- California program offers rebates for making energy-efficient improvements (San Jose Mercury News)
A new statewide program launching Tuesday will give homeowners rebates worth up to $4,000 if they make significant energy-efficient improvements to their houses. The $300 million program, called “Energy Upgrade California,” was developed by the California Energy Commission, local governments, utilities, the California Public Utilities Commission and contractors who specialize in home energy audits, upgrades and retrofits. The goal of the program, which has been in the works for over a year, is threefold: reduce household energy use, save consumers money on utility bills and create jobs in the state’s “building performance” industry. Funding for the program comes from several sources, including federal stimulus dollars and surcharges that consumers already pay on their utility bills.
- PG&E clarifies debit cards: There’s no catch (Kathleen Pender, SF Chronicle)
Pacific Gas and Electric Co. has been mailing $25 prepaid debit cards to San Francisco and San Mateo County customers who cut their natural gas usage in December, but some residents are wondering whether the card is safe to use and why the utility didn’t just take $25 off their bill. PG&E spokesman Joe Molica says the utility had two separate promotions this winter, which might be causing some confusion.
- Redevelopment agencies criticized for using funds to pay for city services (San Jose Mercury News)
Although it is legally required to use its resources to eliminate blight and promote economic activity, San Jose’s redevelopment agency has long spent some of its money on more traditional city services. This fiscal year alone, it’s funneled $11.2 million to help pay the salaries of police officers, city workers and even elected officials. But now scrutiny of that practice — or, as critics insist, “abuse” — is growing, as the state controller’s office prepares to release a long-awaited report on the way redevelopment agencies spend their money. San Jose’s approach is not unusual…
- Solano home sales continue to plunge as Napa’s increase (Vallejo times-Herald)
Solano County saw the Bay Area’s sharpest decline in home sales since December while Napa County experienced its steepest increase, according to a recent report by a real estate monitoring service. DataQuick’s latest report shows Bay Area home sales generally have dropped since December, but are still higher in early 2011 than during the same period last year.
- Garridos confess to Dugard kidnapping, attorney says (Sacramento Bee)
Sometime in the last month, Jaycee Lee Dugard sat across a table from Nancy Garrido and listened as she tearfully confessed to kidnapping Dugard off the street 20 years ago when she was an 11-year-old girl on her way to school. Around the same time, in a separate room in the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Department but without Dugard present, Phillip Garrido made a full confession of his own about driving the getaway car and spiriting Dugard to his Antioch home, where she essentially was kept as a sex slave for the 59-year-old convicted kidnapper and rapist.
- Man who halted bridge traffic faces a year in jail (SF Chronicle)
An Antioch man who brought traffic to a standstill when he threatened to jump from the Bay Bridge or blow up his SUV has been convicted of making a false bomb threat and child endangerment because his 16-year-old daughter was in the vehicle with him, San Francisco authorities said Monday.
- Should Jonestown memorial include Jim Jones? (SF Chronicle)
The seemingly unending tragedy of Jonestown intensified Monday when a group of victims’ families ramped up their fight to stop a planned memorial that would include Jim Jones’ name among the massacre victims.