Morning Splash: SJ City Council Imposes Pay Cuts on Unions; Muni, Operators Reach Tentative Deal
- San Jose City Council imposes 10 percent pay cuts on four unions (San Jose Mercury News)
On an 8-3 vote that signaled growing impatience with labor battles in the face of a fiscal crisis, the San Jose City Council on Tuesday imposed 10 percent pay and benefit cuts on four unions representing more than half the city’s workforce. The unions had resisted across-the-board concession requests that six other unions had accepted to reduce layoffs as city officials try to close a $115 million budget deficit. Labor leaders characterized the council vote as a “heavy-handed” power grab. And council members said they were making plans in case workers strike.
- Muni reaches tentative pact with operators union (SF Chronicle)
A tentative contract between Muni and its operators could save the city at least $21 million over the next three years, largely by reining in overtime and imposing a wage freeze…The deal, however, still must be ratified by members of Transport Workers Union Local 250-A, who have a history of ignoring their negotiators’ advice. Twice last year members bucked the recommendation of its leadership team and rejected proposed cost-saving concessions that management said were needed to avoid deep service cuts.
- Bay Area Home Prices Fall (Again) (Bay Citizen)
Bay Area home prices fell slighly in the first quarter of 2011 and posted a 5.1 percent drop over the previous year, according to the S&P Case-Schiller home-price index, a leading measure of the U.S. housing market. Local home prices are now 40 percent lower than their peak, said David Blitzer, the S&P’s Chairman of Index.
- WHO: Cell phone use can increase possible cancer risk (CNN)
Radiation from cell phones can possibly cause cancer, according to the World Health Organization. The agency now lists mobile phone use in the same “carcinogenic hazard” category as lead, engine exhaust and chloroform… A team of 31 scientists from 14 countries, including the United States, made the decision after reviewing peer-reviewed studies on cell phone safety. The team found enough evidence to categorize personal exposure as “possibly carcinogenic to humans.”
- Project opens tidal action at Alviso between bay and Guadalupe River (San Jose Mercury News)
On Wednesday morning, if everything goes according to schedule, workers will crank a winch to open a steel tidal gate on an earthen levee near Alviso. They’ll be reconnecting the waters of San Francisco Bay with San Jose’s signature waterway, the Guadalupe River, in ways not seen since the 1920s. The event is part of the ongoing effort to restore 15,100 acres of former industrial salt-evaporation ponds around the bay back to tidal marshes for fish, birds and other wildlife. The federal and state governments purchased the lands from Cargill Salt in 2003.
- Medi-Cal shifting seniors, disabled to managed care (SF Chronicle)
California’s budget crisis will hit about 380,000 seniors and disabled people in the state’s Medi-Cal program today when they will be required to begin enrolling in a managed health care plan to receive care. The change, which involves Medi-Cal patients in San Francisco and 15 other counties, is not intended to affect the level of care these people receive but could limit their choice of doctors. Some advocates are concerned that it could cause disruptions in care.
- Alameda: City reviews emergency response after drowning (Bay Area News Group)
City officials are investigating why police and firefighters remained on a beach and watched as a 52-year-old man stood in the surf and apparently took his own life on Memorial Day. The officers and firefighters — who later said they are not trained in land/water rescue — also remained on the beach as a passer-by waded into the water and pulled the man’s body to shore after he drowned.
- Bill on taxing online sales passes California Assembly, moves to Senate (San Jose Mercury News)
…The lower house of the Legislature passed a bill by Assemblyman Charles Calderon, a Democrat, aimed at closing a legal loophole that allows Amazon.com and other Internet retailers to avoid collecting California sales taxes on purchases made on the Internet. The bill is one of a trio of proposals that would put companies such as Amazon and Overstock.com under the same obligation to collect taxes as companies with brick-and-mortar stores in California, such as Best Buy Wal-Mart and Barnes & Noble. The big physical retailers say they are losing business and being forced to close stores and fire employees because of unfair competition from Internet businesses.
- San Francisco middle school placement ready to go for 2017-18 (SF Examiner)
San Francisco students entering kindergarten in one of The City’s 72 public elementary schools by the 2017-18 school year will already know which middle school they will attend. The proposed changes to the student assignment policy for middle schools, though, will not affect any students currently enrolled in San Francisco public schools.
- Judge orders California to boost foster payments (SF Chronicle)
A federal judge has ordered California to increase payment rates immediately to thousands of foster parents, noting that it has been more than 2 1/2 years since he ruled that the state’s reimbursement levels failed to cover the costs of raising a child…He told the state Department of Social Services to raise its rates to levels specified in a UC Davis study of foster children’s needs, which the state commissioned in response to the court case. For a child up to 4 years old, the reimbursement would increase to $609 a month from $446. Rates are higher for older children, and would climb to $761 from $627 for youths ages 15 to 19.
- San Bruno fire victims abandoned by contractor introduced by PG&E (Bay Area News Group)
The Stanley family thought June would be the month when they could finally move back into their home, which has sat vacant since being heavily damaged by the flames spewing from an exploded PG&E gas pipeline. Instead, they were among at least five San Bruno families who got an email Friday from a contractor — Vanderbuilt Construction — to which they had been introduced by Pacific Gas & Electric in the wake of the blast. The message informed them the company was shutting down its operations until June 6 and, during the closure, its leadership would be evaluating whether to shutter the business for good.
- Tribes propose Glen Cove fix (Vallejo Times-Herald)
Two federally recognized Native American tribes announced Tuesday a “cooperative solution” to protect the disputed Glen Clove burial site while allowing park plans to proceed. Greater Vallejo Recreation District officials have welcomed the idea. Meanwhile, demonstrators who’ve occupied the land for 49 days in opposition to the proposed park construction gave themselves credit, even if the tribes wouldn’t, for protecting the site up until now.
- Golden Gate Park recycling center given brief reprieve before eviction (SF Examiner)
Following the denial of a recycling center’s attempt to stop its eviction from Golden Gate Park, park officials have granted the center one final month in its current location near Kezar Stadium. On May 17, a Superior Court judge declined to rule on the Haight Ashbury Neighborhood Council’s assertion that the Recreation and Park Department is unlawfully evicting its recycling operation from its longtime home.
- Despite crisis, Caltrain plans record spending (San Jose Mercury News)
Caltrain is cashing in on its recent fare hike and taxpayer fund infusion by raising the rail line’s spending to record heights — even paying more for executives than initially proposed — despite the agency’s claims it needed the money to keep trains running. The commuter train’s latest proposed $103.8 million budget is the highest in its more than two-decade history. As promised in May, the plan for the fiscal year that starts in July includes no changes to the current 86-train schedule.
- Sacramento Mayor Johnson plans 60-member arena commission (Sacramento Bee)
In his quest to convince residents from Lincoln to Galt that paying for a new sports arena in downtown Sacramento makes sense, Mayor Kevin Johnson is convening a task force larger than the state Senate. Johnson announced Tuesday that he is forming a 60-member commission made up of elected leaders, and business and labor representatives from across the region to come up with a plan to finance a new arena. They will be charged with hammering out a proposal over the next 100 days.