Morning Splash: SJ Firefighters Union OKs Pay Cuts; PG&E Missed Replacing Doomed Pipeline by 1 Block
- Firefighters’ union, city of San Jose reach deal to slash pay and benefits (San Jose Mercury News)
San Jose officials Thursday announced a tentative deal in which city firefighters would agree to reduce their pay and benefits 10 percent for the next two years to avoid further layoffs in the thinly staffed department. The deal requires ratification from the city’s 647 firefighters over the weekend and City Council approval Tuesday. But it makes firefighters the first among San Jose’s 11 employee unions to reach a deal on the 10 percent cuts Mayor Chuck Reed and the council have sought to help close a $105.4 million deficit in the budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1.
- PG&E replaced San Bruno pipelines in 1993, but stopped one block short of doomed section (San Jose Mercury News)
PG&E officials were so concerned about the risk of their natural gas transmission lines bursting during an earthquake that, in 1993 and 1994, they replaced five miles of aging underground steel pipes in San Bruno. But the utility’s construction crews ended the job less than 300 yards from Glenview Drive and Earl Avenue, the site of the deadly explosion that killed eight people last September, new documents released by the National Transportation Safety Board show… A central question remained Thursday: If PG&E geologists and engineers were concerned about damage to their gas transmission pipelines in San Bruno neighborhoods from a major quake on the San Andreas Fault, which they called “the greatest seismic hazard to our pipelines on the San Francisco Peninsula,” why did they only replace some of those lines with newer, thicker steel and leave other aging lines directly adjacent to them untouched?
- SF police respond to Mission gang violence surge (SF Chronicle)
Police beefed up enforcement in San Francisco’s Mission District on Thursday in response to a burst of stabbings and shootings that investigators blame on the long-running rivalry between the Norteños and Sureños street gangs.
- Budget panel approves plan(Sacramento Bee)
Democratic lawmakers on Thursday pushed Gov. Jerry Brown’s budget plan to a likely vote next week, backing his proposals to eliminate redevelopment agencies and to shift many state services to local governments. The vote by the two-house budget conference committee, over the opposition of minority Republicans, sets up floor votes in the Assembly and Senate.
- City says Oakland parking lots are numerous and safe, but others disagree (Oakland Tribune)
…(A) proposal for temporary conditional use permits…looked good on the surface: put the hundreds of vacant lots around Oakland to use with temporary gardens, skate parks, wading pools or food courts. The permit process would be simpler with a TCUP and the projects would be temporary, leaving the owners free in a few years to use the land for more lucrative developments. The honeymoon ended when people started reading the fine print. TCUPs turned out to be a circuitous way for developers and the Oakland Redevelopment Agency to make money on empty land by sneaking in more parking lots, despite the ban on them and despite the fact that there is no shortage of parking downtown. No environmental impact review was required and opponents would have to take their appeals after the fact to the planning commission. Which is why the Planning Commission decided on Feb. 16 to strip parking lots from the TCUP proposal and stick to gardens, food courts and the like.
- Detective misquotes former De Anza athlete in summary report (San Jose Mercury News)
In a surprising admission, a retired detective acknowledged Thursday that he misquoted a former De Anza baseball player accused in a civil trial of gang rape — making it appear in his report as though the young man had participated in the incident even though the girl was “not functioning.” But the former player, Christopher Knopf, actually said the exact opposite, according to a transcript of the taped interview: “I would not say she was not functioning.” It’s too early to tell what effect the admission will have on the Santa Clara County lawsuit alleging the rape of a 17-year-old girl by seven members of the De Anza College baseball team and another man who wasn’t on the team at a March 2007 house party.
- With layoffs looming, debate under way: How many police officers are enough for San Jose? (San Jose Mercury News)
…While some are raising alarm that deep cuts to the crime-fighting force will make the city less safe, concerns about the size of San Jose’s force have been heard for years. But all along, statistics show, San Jose has remained one of the safest large cities in America. So, how many police officers are enough for San Jose? Most experts agree there’s no magic number, and even more importantly, there’s no hard evidence a drop in cops leads to a spike in crime. Still, residents are already frustrated with a police force that doesn’t always respond in the way they expect, and that frustration is likely to grow as the cops cut back more services, from investigating stolen cars to responding to alarms.
- Pride board president quits post (SF Chronicle)
The financially struggling S.F. Pride Celebration Committee, which puts on the annual Gay Pride Parade and celebration, received more bad news this week when the all-volunteer board’s president, Nikki Calma, stepped down. Calma, better known as Tita Aida in the LGBT community, cited recent health problems as the reason for her resignation.
- Drugs, loan-sharking alleged at raided casinos (SF Chronicle)
Employees and associates dealt drugs and engaged in racketeering and loan-sharking at the two Bay Area casinos that were raided this week by law enforcement officials, authorities said Thursday. Loan sharks at the Oaks Card Club in Emeryville and Artichoke Joe’s in San Bruno threatened to harm borrowers who failed to repay loans with 10 percent interest per week, according to a 60-page indictment unsealed Thursday.
- State budget panel OKs new rules for Cal Grants (SF Chronicle)
California students who apply to colleges with high loan default and dropout rates – often for-profit schools with aggressive recruitment practices – will no longer be eligible for Cal Grants of up to $9,703 a year under new rules approved by a legislative committee creating a state budget compromise. And for the first time, all Cal Grant recipients will be re-evaluated for eligibility each year, instead of just once at the start of their college career under the new rules.
- Protesters come down from fourth-floor ledge at UC Berkeley building (Contra Costa Times)
A daylong drama that unfolded when eight protesters chained themselves together on a fourth-floor ledge of Wheeler Hall at UC Berkeley ended peacefully when they came down late Thursday. The protesters emerged from the building about 9:25 p.m. and were not arrested. Originally, a group of nine climbed onto the ledge about 2 p.m., campus spokeswoman Janet Gilmore said, and crowds of approximately 200 to 300 onlookers gathered outside Wheeler Hall to watch, many chanting slogans. The protests were over budget cuts to education…
- S.F. State officials plead in D.C. for Pell Grants (SF Chronicle)
San Francisco State University officials pleaded with lawmakers in Washington Thursday to shield higher education from budget cuts, arguing that California’s system of state universities is educating a home-grown workforce for Silicon Valley firms that currently rely on thousands of immigrant workers. Provost Sue Rosser and President Robert Corrigan said the 24 percent cut in Pell Grants passed by House Republicans, and even much smaller trims proposed by President Obama, threaten the ability of lower-income students to attend college.
- Kings move to Anaheim looking more likely, mayor says (Sacramento Bee)
Mayor Kevin Johnson said Thursday that his 40-minute meeting the day before with team owners left him believing that the team has its sights set on Anaheim, and that Sacramento’s only chance is if negotiations in Southern California fall through.
- Many early California settlers likely seafarers (SF Chronicle)
An extraordinary trove of finely crafted stone spear points discovered by archaeologists could reveal that among California’s earliest settlers were a seafaring people who hunted birds, fish and seals nearly 13,000 years ago in the waters off what are now the Channel Islands. The find suggests that, contrary to what most archaeologists believe, generations of those early Americans may well have moved down the Pacific Coast rather than inland…