Morning Splash: Hearing Reveals PG&E San Bruno Chaos; Harris Weighs in For Same-Sex Marriage
- Confusion and chaos at PG&E on night of San Bruno explosion (Bay Area News Group)
…On Tuesday, nearly six months after the tragedy, federal investigators released thousands of pages of documents that provide the first public look behind the scenes at the confusion, chaos and high-stakes decisions occurring in PG&E’s nerve center as the disaster raged. At first, the control center staff thought a gas station had exploded. Then, they thought it was a plane crash.
- PG&E officials grilled about automatic shut-off valves (San Jose Mercury News)
Gas feeding the flames devouring a San Bruno neighborhood could have been shut off at least an hour earlier, but PG&E had decided in 2006 that adding automatic or remotely controlled shut-off valves to its natural gas pipelines did not significantly increase safety, company officials testified Tuesday. That was one of the most intriguing revelations to emerge from the first day of the National Transportation Safety Board’s three-day hearing into the Sept. 9 catastrophe, which killed eight people and destroyed 38 homes.
- Nearly 500 in S.F. schools to get pink slips (SF Chronicle)
Nearly 500 San Francisco teachers, aides and administrators will find pink slips in their mailboxes within the next two weeks as the school board works to backfill an estimated $27 million shortfall if the state’s worst-case budget scenario pans out later this year.
- Kamala Harris says Obama’s action dooms Prop. 8 (SF Chronicle)
State Attorney General Kamala Harris told a federal appeals court Tuesday that the Obama administration’s repudiation of a federal law denying marital benefits to gay and lesbian couples dims the legal prospects for Proposition 8, California’s ban on same-sex marriage. Harris asked the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco to let same-sex weddings resume in California while the court reviews Prop. 8.
- Dutton says Republicans now meeting with Jerry Brown (Sacramento Bee)
With the target for a budget deal nine days away, Senate GOP leader Bob Dutton confirmed Tuesday that some of his members are now talking to Gov. Jerry Brown. But don’t get excited. Dutton, who says he asks members of his caucus to tell him when they meet with Brown, maintained that the hush-hush discussions are “not about tax extensions.”
- Calif. snow level is better, wetter than expected (SF Chronicle)
California’s perpetually pessimistic water lords were looking on the bright side Tuesday after their monthly slog through the snow to assess the state’s frozen water supply. The water content of the snow in the Sierra is well above normal for March, according to measurements taken manually and electronically throughout the state.
- ‘Pension Spiking’ Boosts BART Police Retiree Pay (KTVU)
A little-known benefit is giving BART police officers a big boost when they retire, allowing them to pump up their pension with a tidy fiscal maneuver during their last year on the job… BART officers are covered by CalPERS, the state retirement fund. Each officer pays 9 percent of their salary into the pension fund. BART matches it with another 9 percent. After they retire, officers get 3 percent of their pay for every year they work, capping at 30 years. But in the last year they work, officers have the option of raising their pay by 9 percent. Here’s how the accounting sleight of hand works.
- Interviews for new S.F. police chief under way (SF Chronicle)
The search for San Francisco’s next police chief moved into its final stages Tuesday as the Police Commission began closed-door interviews of candidates from inside and outside the department.
- County of Marin finds $15.3 million in carryover fund (Marin Independent Journal)
It turns out Marin County isn’t broke after all. County officials announced they found an additional $15.3 million in a fiscal 2009-10 carryover fund balance, a reserve that built up as fiscal officers made conservative estimates of the account tally over a four-year period amid the county’s crippling computer debacle. The county is junking the $30 million system because it never worked right, clouding fiscal affairs.
- Barry Bonds’ trainer warned: Testify or jail (California Watch)
A federal judge urged Barry Bonds’ weight trainer Tuesday to break his silence regarding the former Giants star and steroids. At a federal court hearing in San Francisco, Judge Susan Illston told Greg Anderson, who pleaded guilty to steroid distribution in the BALCO sports doping scandal, that he will return to prison if he refuses to testify at Bonds’ trial on charges of lying under oath about using steroids. The trial is set to begin March 21.
- New Target straddling Oakland, Emeryville opens Wednesday (Oakland Tribune)
A new Target store that straddles Oakland and Emeryville will pump about $550,000 in annual sales tax revenues into the two cities, economic development officials said Tuesday. Oakland Mayor Jean Quan and Emeryville Mayor Nora Davis were on hand Tuesday for the traditional “ribbon-cutting,” as well as food, beverages and live entertainment from local school bands. The store opens Wednesday and will hold a public grand opening Sunday.
- Verizon to halt iPhone unlimited data plans (Bloomberg)
Verizon Communications Inc. will stop offering unlimited data plans for Apple Inc.’s iPhone as soon as this summer, Chief Financial Officer Fran Shammo said. The carrier, which began selling the iPhone last month, now offers a $30 unlimited data plan on the device. Such plans on the handset are “not a long-term solution,” Shammo said Tuesday at a Morgan Stanley conference in San Francisco.
- Apple faithful await the iPad 2 (San Jose Mercury News)
All Apple eyes were on the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in downtown San Francisco early Wednesday as tech reporters, analysts and assorted fanboys gathered for the expected unveiling of the second-generation iPad. The excitement — and the rumors — had been growing since last week, when Apple, in typically cryptic Apple fashion, sent out an invitation to members of the press that included the image of a calendar being peeled back to reveal an iPad with the tease: “Come see what 2011 will be the year of.”