Morning Splash: PG&E Granted Rate Hike; California Legislators Lose State Cars
- PG&E granted rate hike to pay for gas pipeline repairs and maintenance but must report what it does with the money (San Jose Mercury News)
State regulators on Thursday granted Pacific Gas & Electric a $120 million rate hike over the next four years to pay for the repair and maintenance of its natural gas system, but will now require the utility to report what it does with the money. Average residential customers will see their bills go from about $51.60 per month to $51.96 this year, a roughly 0.7 percent bump. But charges could climb as high as $58.16 by 2014, according to an estimate. The increase has been in the works since before last year’s deadly San Bruno explosion, and the utility is considered likely to seek additional rate hikes once the scope of post-San Bruno repairs becomes clear.
- BART San Jose extension’s first phase OKd (SF Chronicle)
It won’t be ready to ride until 2018, but BART directors approved on Thursday the first phase of the long-awaited extension to San Jose, which will end short of downtown. A second phase will eventually take trains 6 miles farther to Santa Clara. The Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority will build and pay for the extension, which will cost $5.9 billion for the full 16.1 miles to Santa Clara. The first phase, to the Berryessa neighborhood in east San Jose, is 10 miles from Warm Springs in Fremont. Construction is under way on the 5.4-mile extension from the current end of the line in central Fremont to Warm Springs. It is scheduled to open in late 2014.
- BART chooses interim general manager (SF Chronicle)
BART lurched toward a new era Thursday as its Board of Directors hired an interim general manager, started the search for a new chief and bid farewell to its current leader, Dorothy Dugger, who is being shown the door and paid nearly $1 million to leave. After an hourlong, closed-session meeting, the board announced that it had hired retired BART general counsel Sherwood Wakeman to serve as interim general manager, beginning April 23, the day after Dugger officially leaves the district.
- SF city overtime heads for $40 million over budget (SF Chronicle)
San Francisco’s overtime bill is on pace to run nearly $40 million over budget for this fiscal year, which is $12 million more than was spent last year. The troubling trend caught the attention of city supervisors Thursday at a City Hall hearing on the spiraling overtime costs for city workers. The hearing ended with a call for more analysis of San Francisco’s increasing reliance on overtime and whether other cities and counties have found good ways to control it.
- California lawmakers stripped of state cars (LA Times)
California lawmakers Thursday were stripped of a valued perk — a state-purchased car that has been replaced with a $300 monthly transportation allowance. The California Citizens Compensation Commission, responsible for setting state officials’ salaries and benefits, said the move would save more than $2.3 million over the next five years, cutting in half what taxpayers spend on lawmakers’ transportation.
- Google profit up but not enough for Wall Street in Larry Page’s first earnings as CEO (San Jose Mercury News)
Google benefitted from an acceleration in search advertising, reporting record first-quarter revenue Thursday that was up 27 percent over the past year, but the Mountain View Internet giant narrowly missed analysts’ profit expectations because of increased spending, the result of a hiring surge and a 10 percent raise for all employees… Google reported first-quarter revenue of $8.6 billion, not counting traffic acquisition costs of about $2 billion, a 27 percent jump compared with the first quarter of last year. Profit was $2.3 billion, up 18 percent from the corresponding quarter in 2010.
- Union Group Produces Long-Awaited Pension Proposals (Bay Citizen)
For the last six months, the leaders of the city’s most powerful labor unions, under the aegis of investor and philanthropist Warren Hellman have been working to make good on a promise made last fall to come up with their own solution to the financial crisis arising from the city’s employee costs. And Tuesday night, after an occasionally tense six-hour session at the San Francisco Police Officers Association building on Bryant Street, the unions, at last, agreed on the outlines of a plan to offer the city and try to sell to their 20,000-odd members.
- Upward Bound facing eviction from USF (SF Chronicle)
A Jesuit university in San Francisco that identifies social responsibility and service as its core values has become the target of civil rights protesters who accuse the school of failing in that mission. At issue is the University of San Francisco’s decision to evict – and possibly sever ties with – a civil rights era college-prep program called Upward Bound that has served low-income high school students on campus since 1966. About 180 students participate in its tutoring, summer school, and college readiness programs.
- Dozens of homeless gather belongings, disperse throughout Vallejo seeking shelter (Vallejo Times-Herald)
Dozens of people who had been living at a former Vallejo auto dealership were displaced Thursday, a day after one of its buildings went up in flames. “Nobody has a clue. Nobody seems to care,” said Christine Hofmann, a 53-year-old homeless woman who had been living at the former Bill Lang Cadillac dealership for a year and a half. Officials and the dealership’s occupants estimate at least 50 people lived at the facility at Sonoma Boulevard and Yolano Drive, largely in the complex’s easternmost building. The dealership’s large, westernmost building was the one that burned Wednesday afternoon and was still smoldering a full 24 hours later.
- Ross Valley Sanitary District considers big rate hike to pay for new pipes; critics question management (Marin Independent Journal)
Customers of the Ross Valley Sanitary District could see their rates rise an average of 80 percent if a proposal by the district’s general manager to hire 11 new employees is approved by the district’s board. If the plan is adopted, residents in the Ross Valley will see their annual service charge increase about 74 percent from $520 to $904 while Larkspur residents would see their annual charge jump nearly 91 percent from $592 to $1,130.
- Billionaire talks of buying Kings or another team for Sacramento (Sacramento Bee)
Armed with an electrifying proposal from two wealthy California power brokers, Sacramento made a bid Thursday to keep the NBA in the city. Southern California supermarket tycoon Ronald Burkle, in partnership with well-connected Sacramento lobbyist and developer Darius Anderson, emerged as last-minute potential saviors of the NBA in Sacramento. The duo said they would lead a group that could purchase the Kings – or buy another team for the city should the Kings move to Anaheim.
- Barry Bonds case headed for extra innings (San Jose Mercury News)
In the coming months, Barry Bonds’ defense team will be pursuing a legal attack on his obstruction of justice conviction that many legal experts say raises credible questions about the validity of this week’s jury verdict. At the same time, prosecutors will be behind closed doors, seriously weighing whether to keep the heat on the home run king by retrying him on three perjury charges left on the table by an undecided jury.
- Coppola reunites Inglenook trademark with historic Rutherford wine estate (Napa Valley Register)
More than three decades after the historic wine estate was stripped of its name, Inglenook has been reunited with the Rutherford wine brand launched in 1879 by Finnish sea captain Gustave Niebaum. Making good on a promise he made years ago, celebrated filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola this week acquired the Inglenook trademark from the Wine Group, noting that his Rubicon Estate will from now on be known by its historic name.
- Sharks beat Kings on Joe Pavelski’s OT goal (San Jose Mercury News)
Understandably, the Sharks want this Stanley Cup run to be different. So they wore black jerseys in the playoffs for the first time. They set a franchise record for quickest goal at the start of a postseason game. And though they needed overtime to do it, eventually they got the one thing they wanted the most: a 3-2 victory over the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday night that enabled them to start the postseason with a win for the first time since 2007.