Morning Splash: Big Fine for PG&E; SJ’s Reed Delays Pension Reform Bid; DiFi Support Dives
- $26 million fine for PG&E in Sacramento area blast (SF Chronicle)
California’s pipeline regulators intend to levy a $26 million fine against Pacific Gas and Electric Co. for federal and state safety violations that the company committed in connection with a fatal explosion in a Sacramento suburb in 2008, state officials said Monday. The fine, which the company has agreed to, would be the second-largest ever against a California utility. It is subject to approval by the state Public Utilities Commission.
- San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed delays fall ballot measure aimed at fiscal, pension reform (San Jose Mercury News)
San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed, who planned to seek the City Council’s blessing Friday to declare a fiscal emergency and agree on language for a fall ballot measure aimed at fiscal and pension reforms, announced Monday that he is delaying action on both until at least early August. He also said he will hold off on a ballot election until at least March 2012. The mayor’s decision came after the city’s police and firefighter unions on Monday agreed to a framework for negotiations through Oct. 31 on retirement reform and related ballot measures.
- Dianne Feinstein’s support dives in Field Poll (SF Chronicle)
California Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s popularity has plunged by double digits from her previous re-election ratings, according to a new Field Poll survey, demonstrating the toll that the anemic economy is taking on incumbent Democrats, including President Obama, heading into next year’s elections. Campaigning for a fourth full term, Feinstein enjoys a four-point edge, 43 to 39 percent, among registered California voters asked if they would vote for her – even as a strong majority, 46 to 31 percent, approves of the job she is doing. Eighteen percent of voters have no opinion on whether they’d vote for her, leaving a wide opening among swing voters for a potential challenger.
- Sources: Woolsey to announce retirement (Santa Rosa Press Democrat)
Rep. Lynn Woolsey, who has represented the North Bay in Congress for nearly two decades, is expected to announce her retirement next Monday at her home in Petaluma…Sources close to the Petaluma Democrat said Woolsey will announce she is retiring after completing her 10th term in 2012.
- PG&E was warned long ago of record-keeping woes (SF Chronicle)
Pacific Gas and Electric Co. was told by a record-keeping manager nearly two decades ago that the company was losing track of documentation for its gas-transmission system and was courting public embarrassment, newly released internal memos show. The inability to find basic information about gas pipelines “may be costly to PG&E in the future,” the manager warned in a March 1993 memo, adding that it would be “difficult to defend the nonexistence” of pipeline records
- Taxicab drivers’ strike will last two hours near San Francisco City Hall today (SF Examiner)
The daylong taxi strike that was supposed to cause citywide gridlock will actually be a two-hour protest event centered near City Hall. Taxi drivers, angered by paying high credit card fees and the delay of long-anticipated meter rate increases, announced last week that they would strike today. Tariq Mehmood, the driver organizing the work stoppage, said he intended on recruiting taxi drivers from every company in The City to stay parked or drive around an empty vehicle during their shift today. Mehmood said the idea was to create “gridlock” on San Francisco streets. However, Mehmood clarified on Monday that the taxi strike would only last from noon to 2 p.m. today.
- East Bay women look to continue legal fight against Wal-Mart despite Supreme Court decision (Contra Costa Times)
Two East Bay women at the center of the largest sex-discrimination lawsuit in the nation’s history vowed to continue their legal battle against Wal-Mart Stores, despite Monday’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling blocking class-action status for it. The nine justices unanimously agreed that the lawsuit could not proceed in its current form, reversing a decision by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco.
- SF Saturday voting effort stalls on cash shortfall (SF Chronicle)
San Francisco’s proposed experiment to open all the polls on the Saturday before election day won’t happen this year due to lack of funding. Last fall, city voters passed Proposition I, which called for a Saturday voting pilot project this November. But that approval was contingent on backers raising private funds to pay for the extra day of voting, and they couldn’t come up with the estimated $2.4 million needed to cover the cost.
- Suspect in Bryan Stow beating ordered to serve 10 months for parole violation (LA Times)
The man Los Angeles police have named as the prime suspect in a vicious assault on a San Francisco Giants fan at Dodger Stadium on opening day was ordered back to state prison Monday to serve 10 months for violating his parole. Deputy Parole Commissioner Ali Zarrinnam ruled that there was sufficient cause to put Giovanni Ramirez, 31, back behind bars because he had access to a gun that had been placed in a laundry basket at the residence where he was staying.
- First heat wave brings Spare the Air alert (SF Chronicle)
The year’s first wave of hot weather in the Bay Area will peak Tuesday, when officials have declared a Spare the Air Day alert. San Francisco’s mid-afternoon temperature today was 88 degrees, warm to be sure but well below the record for the date of 97 degrees, set in 2008.
- Political watchdog agency not attentive, says report (SF Chronicle)
Campaign consultants, politicians and political candidates don’t have to worry about abiding by the city’s ethics laws because virtually nothing will happen to them if they don’t. That’s essentially the message from the San Francisco Civil Grand Jury, which Monday released a report calling the Ethics Commission “a sleeping watchdog.”
- Accusations fly in BART Millbrae hotel deal (Bay Citizen)
After a development project to transform the Millbrae BART station went to the buddy of BART director James Fang, the losing bidder, some BART officials and even the Millbrae mayor say it’s a bad deal that will cost the agency millions of dollars. Republic Urban, a San Jose real estate and development firm, had proposed building a mixed-use office complex on the empty parking lots surrounding the Millbrae station, an important transit hub that is also a Caltrain stop. But after two years of closed-door meetings, the BART board of directors voted three weeks ago to give the exclusive negotiating rights to Lawrence Lui, a close friend and campaign donor of Fang who wants to build a hotel on the site.
- Internet moving from .com and .org to .whatever (San Jose Mercury News)
It’s not as if your dot-com is being put out to pasture. But Monday’s news that the Internet’s address system is expanding to include corporate brand names, as well as other words in other languages, promises what could be the biggest shake-up since the online name game started 26 years ago. Just imagine: Instead of searching for the closest Whopper at bk.com, you might just head straight for haveityourway.bk. Or maybe get a building permit at build.sanjose instead of having to drag yourself all the way over to http://www.sanjoseca.gov/building/.
- Oakland to become the first California city to use a letter-writing campaign to combat the sex trade (Bay Citizen)
(To) residents of the San Antonio neighborhood of East Oakland, they all have the same name: John. Neighbors are preparing to launch a major letter-writing campaign targeting Johns – individuals, mostly men, who purchase the services of prostitutes. Residents hope that by stripping away the anonymity of the exchange, Johns will stay away from the area. Residents send police identifying information about cars they suspect are driven by Johns; in turn, police send a letter to the owners of each car, warning the individuals of the many consequences of purchasing sex.
- Massive monument to humanity finally breaks ground in Oakland (Oakland Tribune)
After a decade of struggle, Oakland’s massive sculpted monument to heroic perseverance, human rights and peace broke ground Monday. The “Remember Them: Champions For Humanity” project will be a set of four bronze sculptures standing more than 20 feet high and depicting the faces of 25 people known for changing human history despite grueling challenges and long odds. It’s a theme that both the artist and his supporters throughout the city say is resonant and open to all people but has special meaning in Oakland.