Morning Splash: Caltrain to Cut Trains, Stations, Up Fares; Twitter Tax Break; U.S. Shutdown Looms
- Caltrain to halt trains, close stations, raise fares, slow express service (Bay Area News Group)
After dire warnings that threatened to cripple the popular commuter train line, Caltrain on Tuesday scrapped the worst of its proposed cutbacks — but will still halt 10 trains, close several stations and raise fares. The plan, set to go into effect in July, will require taxpayers from Santa Clara County to San Francisco to chip in more funds to close Caltrain’s record $30 million deficit. The deal comes after months of outcry from riders who pleaded with Caltrain officials to avoid dramatically slashing service to the 150-year-old railroad.
- Twitter will get payroll tax break to stay in S.F. (SF Chronicle)
Two months of political wrangling over a proposed tax break for Twitter and other growing companies won approval Tuesday from a split Board of Supervisors – a vote that backers hope will revitalize the gritty neighborhoods west of downtown and keep tech firms from fleeing the city… The proposal would exempt companies that move to or remain in the Mid-Market and Tenderloin districts from paying the payroll tax on new employees for six years. Companies still would be on the hook for the payroll tax on existing employees. San Francisco companies with payrolls higher than $250,000 are charged a 1.5 percent business tax on employee compensation.
- Quan’s parcel tax likely dead; Oakland firm loses city security contract (Oakland Tribune)
A blistering pair of debates at City Hall on Tuesday night ended with Mayor Jean Quan’s proposed $80 parcel tax in jeopardy and the city’s hotly contested security contract going to a new firm. The council voted in March to tack the parcel tax onto the statewide special election ballot being sought by Gov. Jerry Brown in his effort to ask voters to sustain expiring state taxes. That plan fell apart, leaving Quan and her backers on the council scrambling to get an Oakland-only ballot out in time to collect the estimated $11 million Quan says is crucial to tackling the city’s impending budget catastrophe. On Tuesday night, Councilmembers Ignacio De La Fuente (Fruitvale), Libby Schaaf (Montclair-Laurel) and Desley Brooks (Eastmont-Seminary) voted down the declaration of urgency needed to push through a special city ballot in July in time to be able to legally collect the taxes, should voters approve the measure.
- Congressional budget talks to stave off shutdown continue (Washington Post)
Top congressional leaders will continue negotiations on 2011 budget cuts Wednesday in an effort to stave off a government shutdown, aides said, after back-to-back meetings at the White House and on Capitol Hill failed to make progress on Tuesday. Aides to House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) and Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) said they were at least somewhat encouraged by a late-day meeting Tuesday between the two lawmakers in the speaker’s office.
- Richmond axes Point Molate casino resort (Contra Costa Times)
Dreams of a $1.2 billion casino-hotel resort at Richmond’s waterfront are dead. City leaders ended a five-hour meeting Tuesday night by nixing further consideration of the proposal, saying there are too many problems from traffic congestion to federal approvals that have yet to come. Ultimately, they said Richmond voters made their opposition clear when they defeated November’s advisory ballot measure on whether a casino should be built at Point Molate.
- Giants fan Bryan Stow suffering from brain damage (SF Chronicle)
The San Francisco Giants fan brutally beaten outside Dodger Stadium last week is suffering from brain damage and remains in a coma, his surgeon said Tuesday. Bryan Stow, 42, of Santa Cruz, remains in critical condition at Los Angeles County USC Medical Center after a pair of Dodgers fans attacked him after a game Thursday.
- PG&E, utilities board criticized in pipeline blast (SF Chronicle)
Residents of San Bruno demanded that concrete steps be taken to prevent another tragedy like September’s deadly natural gas pipeline explosion, telling members of the California Public Utilities Commission on Tuesday evening that Pacific Gas and Electric Co. should put public safety before profits.
- Prosecution rests in Barry Bonds’ perjury trial (California Watch)
Prosecutors rested their perjury case against Barry Bonds today after the judge refused to let the jury hear a secret tape of the slugger’s ex-business manager and his surgeon discussing the BALCO steroids raid. In more than two weeks of trial, the government called more than a dozen witnesses – baseball players, doping scientists and onetime Bonds confidants – in an effort to prove that the former Giants star lied when he told a grand jury in 2003 that he had never knowingly used banned drugs.
- Obama to hold Facebook town hall; kicks off campaign fundraising in Bay Area (San Jose Mercury News)
Hoping to grab some high-tech luster and begin filling the campaign war chest he’ll need in 2012, President Barack Obama will visit Facebook this month for an online town hall event with CEO Mark Zuckerberg before going to San Francisco for a series of pricey fundraisers, including a $35,800-a-plate dinner hosted by Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff.
- Jerry Brown’s list of state parks closures remains a closely held secret (San Jose Mercury News)
In January, Gov. Jerry Brown unveiled his proposed budget and announced that California would, for the first time in history, have to close state parks as a cost-saving measure. Brown instructed the state parks department to draw up by mid-February a list of parks to be closed to save $11 million this year and $22 million next year. But today, three months later, as millions of Californians prepare for summer vacations to state beaches, forests and historic sites, the names of the parks to be closed remain a tightly held secret.
- Calif. cops crack down on texting, talking drivers (SF Chronicle)
Bay Area drivers who text or chat on their cell phones should consider themselves warned: State and local law-enforcement agencies are looking for you this month. The California Highway Patrol and other agencies started a zero-tolerance enforcement period this week, assigning officers to issue tickets to the ever-increasing number of drivers violating the state’s hands-free law.
- San Francisco supervisors howl against GGNRA off-leash proposal (SF Examiner)
The political pressure is intensifying over the Golden Gate National Recreation Area’s draft off-leash policy. And that’s to be expected in a city where it’s estimated about 110,000 households own dogs, that’s more than the number of children in San Francisco. On Tuesday, Supervisor Scott Wiener introduced a resolution that would put the Board of Supervisors “on record opposing” the GGNRA’s proposed dog policies. The plan “would not only curtail dogs, it would eliminate from the GGNRA a main group of recreational park users – people who recreate in the GGNRA with their dogs,” the resolution says.
- Early-quake alarm ready in 5 years, say scientists (SF Chronicle)
An earthquake early-warning system – like the one that saved lives last month in Japan – could be operating in California within five years, giving residents a full 60 seconds to prepare for a Big One, leading seismic researchers said Tuesday.