Morning Splash: Same-Sex Marriage Stays on Hold; PG&E Faces Big Fines Today; Another Storm
- Same-sex marriage stays on hold for Prop. 8 appeal (SF Chronicle)
A federal appeals court rejected a plea by gay and lesbian couples Wednesday to let same-sex weddings resume in California while the court reviews a 2008 ballot measure that banned such marriages, a process that could take at least one more year. The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco reaffirmed an order it issued in August, suspending Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker’s decision that found Proposition 8 unconstitutional.
- Regulators may crack down on PG&E Thursday (San Jose Mercury News)
Lambasted in the past for going too easy on PG&E, state regulators have been talking tougher in recent weeks. Thursday, they will have their biggest opportunity since the catastrophic natural gas-line explosion in San Bruno to transform talk into action. The California Public Utilities Commission, with three new members on board — including a longtime PG&E critic — will consider endorsing a proposed fine against the utility of up to $1 million a day for not providing pipeline safety documents the agency had requested. Agency officials say that would be the biggest fine they’ve ever issued against PG&E for a safety violation.
- One more big storm, then the end is in sight (SF Chronicle)
Another soggy mess is expected to put umbrellas and tire treads to the test this morning, but then the worst of this week’s soakings should be over, forecasters say. As much as an inch of rain is expected in the Bay Area lowlands, with up to 2 inches in more precipitation-prone areas such as the Santa Cruz Mountains and the North Bay hills.
- New poll brings grim news for Brown’s budget plan (Oakland Tribune)
Support for a special election on Gov. Jerry Brown’s plan to extend temporary tax and fee increases has waned significantly in the past two months, according to a statewide survey released Wednesday by the Public Policy Institute of California. The survey — polling 2,000 California adults by phone from March 8 through 15 — found that although two out of three adults and the same proportion of likely voters had said in January that a special election was a good idea, only a little more than half of either group says so now.
- Three more San Jose city employee unions agree to concessions (San Jose Mercury News)
On the heels of a similar deal between the city of San Jose and the firefighters union, three more city employee unions on Wednesday announced that they have reached a tentative agreement to also reduce their pay and benefits 10 percent for the next two years.
The three unions represent city engineers and architects, supervisors of trade workers and midlevel managers. Together, they represent 623 employees, or 11 percent of the city’s union workforce. Seven other unions, including the San Jose Police Officers’ Association, are still bargaining with the city.
- Mohammad Qayoumi is new president of San José State University (San Jose Mercury News)
Three time a week as a youngster, Mohammed Qayoumi walked several miles across a rural suburb of Kabul Afghanistan just to learn English. Now, four decades later, the son of a carpenter, whose mother never learned to read or write, has been selected as the new president of San Jose State University
- S.F. master plan for housing up for vote (SF Chronicle)
Seen as the bible for future development in San Francisco, the Planning Commission is set to take up an oft-delayed master plan for housing that calls for a little more density in western San Francisco and for the community to become more involved in the planning process. The plan, which is more a policy guide than a binding plan for development, has been two years in the making. If it is approved today, it would renew San Francisco’s commitment to build new affordable housing near transit while still preserving the low-density character of many neighborhoods.
- Tax break for Twitter: tweaks loom (SF Chronicle)
Plans to extend a tax break to Twitter and other companies that have a Mid-Market or Tenderloin address appear to be all but a done deal, but more tweaks are expected before the legislation lands before the Board of Supervisors for the first of two votes on April 5. The Board of Supervisors Budget and Finance Committee took up the proposal Wednesday, and passed it to the full board without recommendation. It would allow exempt companies from paying the payroll tax on new hires for six years; they also would get a pass on paying the tax on compensation tied to stock options. A chief sticking point to be resolved is the geographic boundary. At least part of the Tenderloin area now included in the legislation may be eliminated, with Mid-Market remaining the main focus.
- Following Twitter, Zynga Now Threatening to Leave San Francisco (Bay Citizen)
Zynga, the Internet gaming company, is threatening to relocate its headquarters to Silicon Valley unless San Francisco officials waive a tax on employee stock options, according to several city officials familiar with the company’s demands. Zynga is just one of many burgeoning tech companies that have approached the city in response to a proposal to grant Twitter a payroll tax exemption as an incentive to persuade the company to remain in San Francisco.
- Oakland council OKd firm’s pact without bidding (SF Chronicle)
The Oakland security company under scrutiny for questionable campaign contributions to council members holds a city contract that for 10 years has been renewed on a month-to-month basis without competitive bidding. The city administrator, not the City Council, has renewed ABC Security’s contract each time so that the company could provide security guard services at all city buildings.
- New-home sales plunged in February to record low (Bay Area News Group)
New-home sales across the country hit their slowest pace in nearly half a century, the government announced Wednesday, in yet another sign of the continued struggles of the housing market. That trend is reflected in the Bay Area: Sales of new homes in the region reached their lowest point in more than 20 years last month, according to a separate report released last week.
- Wet Weather Sends Britney Spears Concert Indoors (KTVU)
A nationally televised concert featuring singer Britney Spears was scheduled to take place on Castro Street in San Francisco this coming Sunday, but the forecast wet weather forced a change in plans. Now the event has been moved to the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium.
- Elizabeth Taylor was tireless AIDS activist (SF Chronicle)
The mid-1980s were dark, terrible years as the AIDS epidemic took off – patients were dying and doctors often didn’t know how to help them. Out in the public, hysteria and stigma ruled. But then Elizabeth Taylor, so glamorous and popular, embraced her friend Rock Hudson, who was dying of AIDS. And people paid attention.
- Russia, Seeking to Emulate Silicon Valley, Opens Office Here (Bay Citizen)
Russia is building its own version of Silicon Valley near Moscow. The 6,000-acre innovation center’s only global outpost was officially opened this week in Menlo Park. The opening marked a major step in Russia’s efforts to increase its presence in Silicon Valley, as the nation seeks to diversify its economy and invest in emerging technologies.