Morning Splash: CSU Ups Tuition 12%; Peninsula H. Speed Rail Work Pauses; McConnell Offers Obama Debt Authority; Fishermen Search Ends
- CSU trustees approve 12 percent tuition hike (SF Chronicle)
California State University trustees voted today to raise tuition by 12 percent this fall, over the objections of critics who said middle-class and undocumented students – who don’t qualify for financial aid – will be priced out of a basic college education. The decision brings tuition to $5,472, up from $4,440 last September. With mandatory campus fees averaging $950, the price for a year at CSU will come to $6,422.
- Peninsula high-speed rail work stopped while two-track alternative pondered (San Mateo County Times)
The chief executive of California’s high-speed rail project said he is stopping almost all planning work on the $6.1 billion Peninsula section of the proposed bullet-train system until project leaders can figure out whether it’s possible initially to use two tracks in the section between San Francisco and San Jose, instead of the four tracks that the authority has proposed. Caltrain is conducting a study to see if using two tracks might be feasible. In the interim, CEO Roelof van Ark said he has directed the California High-Speed Rail Authority’s planners “to reduce their activities on the Peninsula to a minimum” and cease further work on a draft environmental-impact report. No new work will be started “until clarity is reached on the selected way forward for San Francisco to San Jose,” van Ark said in a statement.
- McConnell outlines new proposal on debt ceiling (Washington Post)
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell moved Tuesday to head off a potentially disastrous U.S. default by offering President Obama new authority to raise the federal debt limit without cutting government spending. With debt-reduction talks between the White House and GOP leaders stalled, McConnell (R-Ky.) said his proposal offers a “last-choice option” for meeting an Aug. 2 deadline to raise the legal limit on the national debt. Senior Democrats privately embraced the idea, saying it could offer a detour around the looming crisis.
- BART: Next time, ‘zero tolerance’ for disruptions (SF Chronicle)
Monday night’s protests at BART’s Civic Center Station in San Francisco did not result in any arrests by the transit agency’s police, but a spokesman declared that next time, there will be “zero tolerance.” An estimated 100 people obstructed rush-hour traffic by storming the Civic Center Station at 4:30 p.m. and blocking the doors to the trains. BART officials were forced
- Search ends for two missing Sonoma County fishermen (Santa Rosa Press Democrat)
The families of two Sonoma County men who have been missing since a July 3 boating disaster off the Baja California coast vowed Tuesday to not give up hope after authorities announced that they are suspending the search for survivors. Retired Pacific Bell worker Russ Bautista, 60, of Penngrove and Petaluma auto mechanic Shawn Chaddock, 49, are among seven Americans still unaccounted for after their chartered fishing boat sank during a fierce nighttime storm in the Sea of Cortez.
- Pension reform amendment would allow clear choice (SF Chronicle)
…(Supervisor) Elsbernd Tuesday introduced amendments to the pension reform measure he crafted with Mayor Ed Lee, labor leaders and others, which is now before the Board of Supervisors. The amendments include language saying whichever ballot measure gets the most votes will be the only one implemented. They were added without objection and will be discussed when Lee’s measure goes before the board later this month. Currently, if two competing measures both pass, the one with the higher vote total prevails, but any elements of the second measure that are not in conflict with the winning measure also take effect.
- PG&E says it won’t blame San Bruno victims (SF Chronicle)
Pacific Gas and Electric Co. moved Tuesday to assure victims of the San Bruno natural gas pipeline explosion that it did not intend to argue in court that they were to blame for losses they suffered in the disaster. The company amended a filing it made last week in a case involving more than 100 lawsuits seeking damages as a result of the Sept. 9 blast, which killed eight people and destroyed 38 homes. In a statement, the company said it wanted to be “crystal clear that no one at PG&E would suggest that the plaintiffs or residents of San Bruno impacted by this accident are somehow at fault for the tragedy.”
- Stanford project receives final approval after delay (Palo Alto Daily News)
With final approvals in hand, Stanford University is getting ready to start construction on its massive $5 billion hospital expansion project. The Palo Alto City Council voted 7-0 Monday to green-light the project after a three-week delay because of concerns about construction’s impacts on a day care near the Hoover Pavilion.
- S.F. weighs protecting ex-cons seeking homes, jobs (Matier & Ross, SF Chronicle)
Ex-convicts may soon become a “protected class” in San Francisco – joining African Americans, Latinos, gays, transgender people, pregnant women and the disabled. A proposal being circulated at City Hall would make it illegal for landlords and employers to discriminate against applicants solely because they were “previously incarcerated.”
- Joe Montana wins deal for Santa Clara project next to 49ers stadium (San Jose Mercury News)
(It) was one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time who emerged victorious at Santa Clara City Hall, as elected leaders on Tuesday promised to lease a chunk of city-owned land to Joe Montana for a luxury hotel project. Over the objection of the city’s top appointed official, the City Council voted 5-1 to enter exclusive negotiations with the 49ers legend, who sought to build a major commercial project across from the future home of his old team.
- Quake worries linger for PG&E pipelines (Bay Area News Group)
After the devastating 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, newly released documents show, PG&E identified numerous spots — from San Jose and Milpitas to San Francisco and Brentwood — where its natural gas lines might be damaged by the massive temblor that is all but certain to slam the Bay Area someday. But despite extensively upgrading its pipes in recent years, deep concerns remain about the vulnerability of PG&E’s gas operations to a major quake, especially given the Sept. 9 San Bruno explosion, which left eight people dead.
- Netflix to raise rates for subscription that includes DVDs and streaming (San Jose Mercury News)
Netflix customers reacted angrily Tuesday to the company’s announcement that it is raising — by as much as 60 percent — its prices on plans that entitle subscribers to check out DVDs and stream videos. The Los Gatos company said it will now charge $15.98 a month for plans that allow users to stream video and check out up to one DVD at a time and $19.98 for streaming and two DVDs at a time. Previously, the company charged $9.99 and $14.99, respectively, for those plans. The price hikes will take effect immediately for new subscribers and Sept. 1 for existing ones.
- Cisco chief touts company overhaul (San Jose Mercury News)
Working the room like a gregarious talk-show host, Cisco (CSCO) Chief Executive John Chambers told a Las Vegas convention hall filled with thousands of customers and business partners Tuesday that he is overhauling the company to make it more agile and responsive to consumers… Some investment analysts cited a report by Bloomberg News as evidence the company is serious about slashing expenses to become more competitive. Bloomberg said unnamed sources estimate Cisco may cut as many as 10,000 jobs, far more than previously believed. Cisco has not confirmed the report but says it will announce layoff plans in August.
- Gays gaining ground in state political district boundary talks (Contra Costa Times)
In what would be a nationwide first, California may draw its new political districts with an eye toward protecting the voting power of “gayborhoods.” Advocates for gay and lesbian groups have petitioned the state’s redistricting commission to preserve or expand the number of gay-friendly congressional or legislative districts. They are offering maps that show gay-friendly neighborhoods in areas from San Francisco to the Oakland hills to downtown San Jose. Commission members seem receptive.
- Dugard memoir details her public excursions in Contra Costa, hoping to be recognized, rescued (Contra Costa Times)
…(Jaycee) Dugard, the storied survivor now using her fame to help other sexual abuse victims via her newly formed JAYC (Just Ask Yourself “… to Care!) Foundation, describes being hidden in plain sight in eastern Contra Costa County and yearning for rescue. Dugard kept silent during one of her first public outings, at the 1999 Brentwood Cornfest. By this time, eight years of successfully hiding their crimes had emboldened her captors, Phillip and Nancy Garrido, and in their minds they were drawing their kidnapped sexual servant into their warped image of a family.