Morning Splash: New SF Police Chief; PG&E Says More Documentation Errors on Pipeline
- Veteran cop Greg Suhr named new S.F. police chief (Matier & Ross, SF Chronicle)
Capt. Greg Suhr, a 30-year veteran of the San Francisco Police Department whose roller-coaster career has included command of two of the city’s toughest station houses and an indictment for allegedly conspiring to obstruct justice, is Mayor Ed Lee’s pick to be police chief. Suhr, 52, is expected to be sworn in this morning. He replaces Jeff Godown, who has been acting chief since early January when George Gascón moved over to become district attorney in the final hours of former Mayor Gavin Newsom’s administration.
- PG&E IDs 34 miles of pipe falsely deemed seamless (SF Chronicle)
Pacific Gas and Electric Co. has identified 34 miles of pipeline in its urban gas transmission system that its records erroneously list as seamless, revealing documentation problems far more extensive than were apparent after the deadly explosion in San Bruno. The company told state regulators of the problem in an April 13 letter in which it said the lines had been installed before 1974, a time when no one manufactured seamless transmission pipe. The letter, written by Bill Stock, director for regulatory relations for PG&E, did not say where the 34 miles of pipeline were located.
- 106 San Jose cops get layoff notices (San Jose Mercury News)
After months of nervous anticipation, 106 San Jose police officers are getting notices this week that they may be laid off as the reality of the city’s dire financial picture cast a gloom over police headquarters and City Hall. An additional 20 more cops learned they may soon be demoted. And overall, the city could lose about 9 percent of its police force in what could be the first layoffs of officers in the city’s history.
- The End of Consumer Class Actions? Supreme Court Upholds AT&T Arbitration Contract (ABA Journal)
The U.S. Supreme Court has sided with AT&T in its bid to enforce contract provisions banning class actions and requiring individual arbitration in consumer disputes. The Federal Arbitration Act pre-empts a California common-law rule that allowed some consumers to avoid contracts in which they waived their class action rights, the court ruled in an opinion (PDF) by Justice Antonin Scalia. Tom Goldstein of SCOTUSblog calls the 5-4 decision in AT&T Mobility v. Concepcion “super-significant.”
- Air quality: Several Bay Area counties fail survey (SF Chronicle)
Periodic spikes in ozone levels and the choke-inducing fine particle pollution from diesel engines and smokestacks earned several Bay Area jurisdictions poor marks in air quality, according to a nationwide report card released today. A county-by-county analysis by the American Lung Association in California gave failing marks to Santa Clara, Solano and Contra Costa counties.
- Santa Clara County supervisors ban plastic bags (San Jose Mercury News)
In a sign of California’s cultural creep away from reliance on the ubiquitous plastic shopping bag, Santa Clara County supervisors passed a sweeping ban Tuesday without a single naysayer from the public. Earlier hearings on the county’s two-year effort toward banning plastic carryout bags drew heated opposition from chambers of commerce, merchants and even chemical and oil producers. But Tuesday’s vote had just one opponent, the newest board member and lone Republican, Mike Wasserman, who spoke out for affected wineries and golf courses in his South County district. Wasserman said plastic bags don’t really contribute all that much to pollution.
- BART late-night service may get another try (SF Chronicle)
Late-night or round-the-clock BART service, an idea that’s been briefly tested over the years but never adopted, could get a six-month tryout beginning this fall. Under a demonstration project that will be presented to the transit agency’s Board of Directors on Thursday, trains that now depart the end-of-the-line stations at midnight would leave an hour later on Friday nights. But to protect the amount of down time needed for maintaining the system, Saturday service would begin an hour later – at 7 a.m.
- PG&E ordered to immediately return CEO’s full pension amount to ratepayer fund (San Jose Mercury News)
Amid a continuing public and political outcry, state regulators on Tuesday ordered PG&E to clearly show that ratepayers won’t be on the hook for the nearly $10 million pension awarded to outgoing CEO Peter Darbee. One day after PG&E promised to fund Darbee’s payout itself, the California Public Utilities Commission told the utility to set up a special account for the money by May 15 and warned the company it would audit PG&E “at any time in the future to ensure that this PG&E commitment is honored permanently,” said Julie Fitch, director of the PUC’s energy division, in a letter to the utility.
- Stanford committee recommends ROTC reinstatement; now faculty votes (San Jose Mercury News)
More than four decades after Stanford University banished ROTC from campus, a committee has recommended that the military programs be invited back. The university’s faculty must still vote on the divisive issue, which will be debated at Thursday’s meeting of the Faculty Senate. And then the Pentagon must decide whether to proceed – that is, whether enough Stanford students would be interested to make it worth their investment.
- Oakland Coliseum set to be renamed Overstock.com Coliseum (Oakland Tribune)
The Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum will be renamed Overstock.com Coliseum under a deal that could earn the government about $1.2 million a year for the next six years. The Oakland-Alameda Coliseum Authority that runs Oakland’s professional sports complex is expected to approve the naming rights deal Wednesday morning, giving the 47-year-old stadium its fourth name. The authority has been looking for a new corporate sponsor for the stadium since 2008, when the MacAfee Inc., a maker of computer virus software, declined to extend its yearly $1.3 million naming rights deal.
- Gentrification a balancing act for downtown residents, merchants (Oakland Tribune)
When Scott Louie and his wife moved into the Jade condominium complex on Jefferson Street, they were the only ones on their floor. The year was 2006, and the city was just starting to feel the growing pains of gentrification accelerated by Jerry Brown’s “elegant density” plan to bring 10,000 new residents like the young couple downtown. Since then, thousands of apartments, townhouses and condos have been built between Jack London Square and West Grand Avenue with perks like gyms, in-house movie theaters and swimming pools.
- Lee opposes shark-fin sales ban (SF Chronicle)
The congenial, consensus-building Mayor Ed Lee has a way of not taking sides on hot-button issues by charmingly talking around them. So we were a little surprised when he was pretty straightforward in his opposition to a proposed ban on shark fin soup. “I’m not supportive of any bans at this point,” he said.
- Marin County joins SmartMeter ‘opt-out’ protest (Marin Independent Journal)
Marin County has joined a coalition of California governments and civic groups in a formal protest of Pacific Gas and Electric Co.’s costly “opt out” program for people who don’t want SmartMeters. County supervisors voted 3-0 Tuesday to join Fairfax and other agencies across the state in signing a protest petition advising the California Public Utilities Commission that PG&E’s option plan is burdensome and too costly. Also joining the protest was the Alliance for Human and Environmental Health, a West Marin coalition.
- Pressure Mounts for US to Intervene in Attacks on SF Website (Bay Citizen)
As cyber attacks continue to pummel the San Francisco website Change.org, pressure is mounting for the U.S. government to intervene in the virtual hostilities, which the company contends originated in China. Change.org, a small startup, came under a relentless barrage of distributed denial-of-service, or DDoS, attacks last week, apparently in retaliation for hosting a petition calling on China to release Ai Weiwei, the Chinese artist and outspoken critic who was detained by authorities three weeks ago.