Morning Splash: Near-Record Sierra Snowpack; Mudslides Bedevil Bay Area; Guv’s Budget Options
- Sierra snowpack is one of biggest on record (SF Chronicle)
State water gurus on Wednesday put official numbers on what Californians have suspected for weeks as they hunkered down against hammering rain, streams that jumped their banks and blizzards that closed twisty mountain passes. Sierra Nevada snowpack – a key factor in determining the state’s water supply each year – stands at 165 percent of average, a level not seen since 1995 and one that puts the 2010-2011 winter near the top of the record lists.
- Erosion, mudslides in South Bay, Peninsula worst since 1998 El Niño storms (San Jose Mercury News)
From Morgan Hill to Mountain View, Highway 1 to Hercules, the earth is on the move. At the end of a soggy March, mudslides and erosion are cutting off homes and crumbling creek beds, stranding homeowners in Morgan Hill and forcing others to evacuate along Stevens Creek in Mountain View. At least three homes are at risk of sliding into the Peninsula creek after rains swallowed up entire backyards in a mobile home community.
- Jerry Brown faces tricky budget options (Sacramento Bee)
The collapse of budget negotiations leaves a temporary vacuum as state leaders decide where to head next. This much is known: the state needs to solve a remaining $15.4 billion deficit, and lawmakers have exhausted many options in the realm of spending cuts and fund transfers. Gov. Jerry Brown and legislative Democrats have given up on a June tax election. But they have not abandoned their desire to solve most of the remaining deficit with additional tax revenue.
- Schools potentially face tremendous cuts (San Jose Mercury News)
With budget negotiations in Sacramento in tatters, the bloodletting is starting to come into focus… California schools are (grappling) with a nightmare scenario: $1,000-per-student cuts, 30 days shaved off the school year and school districts falling into bankruptcy…Gov. Jerry Brown and Democratic lawmakers have said all along that they would have little option but to slash education spending if voters didn’t extend sales, income and auto taxes in a June election. K-12 education had been protected in the $8.2 billion in cuts — mostly affecting the state’s most vulnerable populations — signed by Brown last week.
- Community colleges could turn away 400,000 (SF Chronicle)
An unprecedented 400,000 students could be turned away from California’s community college campuses next fall because state lawmakers are letting billions of dollars in taxes expire in June that would otherwise protect courses, Community College Chancellor Jack Scott said Wednesday.
- S.F. pot case tossed as video contradicts police (SF Chronicle)
A San Francisco judge dismissed marijuana trafficking allegations Wednesday after finding a videotape contradicted officers’ account of a drug search at a suspect’s Richmond District apartment. In the latest case in which video appeared to undermine police testimony, Superior Court Judge Gerardo Sandoval issued his dismissal order after a three-day preliminary hearing on drug dealing charges lodged against McLaren Wenzell, 23, stemming from the March 1 police search and seizure of 4 pounds of marijuana.
- Molest suit: From Santa Rosa to Dublin (Santa Rosa Press Democrat)
Four men who claim they were molested by a Humboldt County priest in the 1980s have dropped their case against the Catholic Diocese of Santa Rosa. But only so they can expand their target to include “an international conspiracy” that extends to Ireland, their attorneys said. The new suit will take aim not only the local diocese, but the Archdiocese of Dublin and the Catholic order that treated the priest for pedophilia, attorney Joseph George said Wednesday.
- Nuclear energy: Dianne Feinstein seeks precautions (SF Chronicle)
Fresh from a tour of California’s two active nuclear power plants at Diablo Canyon and San Onofre, Sen. Dianne Feinstein said Wednesday that “what jumps out at you” is that some spent nuclear fuel rods are stored in pools similar to the ones leaking radiation at a crippled Japanese reactor. Feinstein, at a Senate subcommittee meeting in Washington, called for a “rethinking” of how spent fuel is managed at the two California plants and at other nuclear plants in the United States.
- Bay Area drying out in record-high temperatures (SF Chronicle)
After days and days of rain, the Bay Area is now experiencing a heat wave – even as the lingering effects of winter force new road closures and send hillsides sliding toward homes. High-temperature records for the date tumbled Wednesday as spring checked in a few days behind schedule. San Francisco’s 82 degrees eclipsed the 1987 mark by one degree, and Napa’s 86 was four degrees higher than the old record set in 2001.
- Japan quake: Tiny levels of radiation in Bay Area (SF Chronicle)
Nuclear engineers at UC Berkeley reported Wednesday they are detecting “extremely small” levels of radiation from the stricken Fukushima power plant in Japan, but the levels barely reach the limits of detection by their highly sophisticated monitoring equipment, they said.
- America’s Cup Preparations May Unleash Invasive Seaweed on Bay (Bay Citizen)
While residents on Thursday will discover the extent of traffic and transit havoc that will be wrought by the (America’s Cup), environmentalists have been warning city and port officials that the regatta will provide an aggressive form of invasive algae with a free ride throughout the region. The invasive kelp, which was first detected along city shorelines in 2009, could multiply explosively, spread throughout the bay and choke out native seaweed species when event-related demolition and boat removal activities begin a year from now, a coalition of environmental groups is warning.
- Cal baseball closing in on reinstatement (Bay Area News Group)
Cal athletic director Sandy Barbour said Tuesday that she is “very hopeful” the Golden Bears’ baseball program is on the brink of reinstatement. Stu Gordon, a San Francisco attorney and former pitcher for the Bears, met this week with Cal Chancellor Robert Birgeneau and presented him evidence of more than $9 million in private pledges to restore the 119-year-old program that is scheduled to be shut down after this season.
- Google introduces +1 social network (SF Chronicle)
Google Inc. introduced its latest attempt to crack Facebook Inc.’s hold on social networking on Wednesday, but not before agreeing to a “comprehensive privacy program” that settles a Federal Trade Commission charge that the search giant’s Google Buzz feature violated privacy rights. The Mountain View company is rolling out a social sharing feature called “+1,” which gives users a way to share their search results with friends.
- 6 rules for SF Giants fans in uncharted territory (Scott Ostler, SF Chronicle)
You are a Giants fan and this should be a giddy time, but something doesn’t seem right. You feel a sense of disorientation as you squeeze the supermarket avocados in preparation for viewing tonight’s season opener against the Dodgers in Los Angeles, smog permitting.
- Judge Judge tosses Yelp suit but will allow refiling (SF Business Times)
A federal judge in San Francisco has tossed out a lawsuit seeking class action damages for alleged “implied” extortion by online review site Yelp. But the judge, Marilyn Hall Patel, gave plaintiffs the opportunity to rewrite and refile allegations that San Francisco-based Yelp sought advertising in exchange for favored treatment.