Morning Splash: Laid-Off SJ Firefighters Return; Hancock Moves to Thwart Amazon Referendum; Assembly Committee Kills Death Penalty Rollback
- 22 laid-off San Jose firefighters back on the job (San Jose Mercury News)
Nearly half of the 49 San Jose firefighters laid off last year amid a record budget shortfall will be back on the job starting Friday thanks to a federal bailout. The $15 million, two-year fire staffing grant through the Federal Emergency Management Agency — believed to be the largest awarded to any city — will help restore all the firefighter jobs lost a year ago when city and fire union leaders failed to reach an agreement on pay cuts that city officials said were needed to prevent layoffs.
- Google’s Silicon Valley expansion now includes buying buildings (Oakland Tribune)
Google has purchased numerous office buildings in Mountain View, part of a multipronged property quest that underscores the startling expansion plans of the digital titan. All told, Google this year has spent an estimated $115 million to buy 16 buildings in Mountain View, including a four-building complex a few blocks from the downtown. The purchases are on both sides of Highway 101. The locations and prices were obtained from public records and realty experts
- Three Marines face charges in hazing of Santa Clara corporal who killed himself in Afghanistan (San Jose Mercury News)
Alone in a foxhole in Afghanistan, Santa Clara Marine Harry Lew wrote a message on his arm to his mom: “May hate me now, but in the long run this was the right choice.” Then he leaned over his military-issue machine gun, put his mouth over the muzzle and pulled the trigger. A new U.S. military report revealed why he did it: He had been mercilessly hazed by his fellow Marines. Thursday, the military announced charges against three Marines accused of beating and taunting the 21-year-old just hours before he killed himself on April 3.
- Last key step taken toward removing Alviso from federal Superfund list (San Jose Mercury News)
In a key step toward removing Alviso from the federal Superfund list as soon as next year, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has settled a long-running dispute with prominent Alviso political leader Dick Santos and his family over asbestos buried on the family’s property. The agreement, filed in U.S. District Court in San Francisco this week, requires Santos, a member of the Santa Clara Valley Water District board, along with his brother Tony Santos and sister Toni Robinson, to maintain a two-foot thick soil barrier over an 11-acre property, which the EPA says contains asbestos from old pipes and other waste dumped there half a century ago.
- S.F. sued over police shooting of mentally ill man (SF Chronicle)
The parents of a mentally ill man who was shot to death by San Francisco police in his home last December sued the city Wednesday, saying the man was not wielding a knife at officers, as they claimed, and posed no threat to them. The federal court suit also alleged that police mishandled the incident because of the city’s elimination in June 2010 of a program that trained officers in dealing with the mentally ill.
- Barry Bonds seeks to have conviction overturned (SF Chronicle)
Prosecutors were “inventing a new criminal offense mid-trial” when they charged Barry Bonds with obstructing justice based on a single inconclusive answer in his grand jury testimony about drugs, a lawyer for the former Giants star told a federal judge Thursday.
- Frustrated Commuters May Strike Back (Bay Citizen)
…A Facebook page called Commuters Take Back BART suggests there may be a showdown Monday at 5 p.m. at the Civic Center station, when Anonymous, a loose-knit group of online activists and hackers, says it will hold what would be the fourth anti-BART protest in two months.
- Pension reform ads will not feature Jeff Adachi’s name or photo (SF Examiner)
Public Defender Jeff Adachi cannot use his name or photo on any election materials supporting his pension-reform ballot measure because he’s also running for mayor, the Ethics Commission said Thursday.
- Political fight, accusations of racism rock San Francisco’s Chinatown (SF Examiner)
Squabbling between prominent power brokers has blown up into a fight highlighting a political rift in San Francisco’s Asian community that could have implications in the mayoral race. The fight escalated recently when local Democratic Party chair Aaron Peskin suggested in an interview with the Epoch Times that one of Mayor Ed Lee’s close allies, Chinese Chamber of Commerce head Rose Pak, represented the interests of outside governments, including the People’s Republic of China. Peskin backed the claim by pointing out that Lee had taken multiple trips to China with Pak.
- Alameda County government and court workers rally over executive perks (Contra Costa Times)
Alameda County government and court workers staged a noon rally Thursday, protesting what they said were unfair benefits paid to top level managers while they have forfeited raises and live under a constant threat of layoffs. Marching outside the county administration building, they said they were angry over deferred compensation payments made to politicians and also over expected furloughs and layoffs in Superior Court, which is funded by the state. This newspaper reported Sunday that top Alameda County elected officials and department heads receive as much as $44,000 a year in deferred compensation in addition to generous pension contributions.
- War of nerves unfolds in Fairfax between PG&E and SmartMeter opponents (Marin Independent Journal)
Some residents in Fairfax sounded the alarm this week when they spotted a Pacific Gas and Electric Co. service truck parked downtown and assumed it was there to install SmartMeters. It turned out it wasn’t, but the incident served as a reminder that more than a year after PG&E began installing the wireless devices the controversy is still going strong — at least in Fairfax. SmartMeter opponents began posting sentries around Fairfax late last week to keep a lookout for PG&E vehicles. They took the action after several Fairfax residents reported finding cards that PG&E representatives had left at their homes.
- Sen. Loni Hancock acts to thwart Amazon referendum (SF Chronicle)
Lawmakers are aiming to torpedo a well-funded referendum that would undo a piece of the budget package requiring major online retailers to collect sales tax. On Thursday, Sen. Loni Hancock, D-Berkeley, amended a bill that would make the sales tax requirement untouchable by a referendum and would blow up the effort funded by online giant Amazon to allow voters to decide whether to keep the tax in place.
- Jerry Brown’s corporate tax plan unlikely to win GOP support (Sacramento Bee)
The tax and jobs plan Gov. Jerry Brown proposed Thursday was immediately assailed by Republicans as “creative packaging,” and even Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg – who stood beside Brown for the announcement – said he doesn’t expect it to pass.
- Bill to kill California’s death penalty shelved in committee (Sacramento Bee)
Legislation seeking to eliminate the death penalty was shelved Thursday in the Assembly Appropriations Committee. Senate Bill 490 would have placed before voters in November 2012 a measure to close death row and replace the death penalty with life in prison without parole.
- Bill to change laws for juvenile offenders serving life-without-parole sentences fails in state Assembly (San Jose Mercury News)
A bill that would have allowed juvenile offenders sentenced to life without parole the chance to pursue freedom after a quarter-century in prison narrowly failed to pass the state Assembly Thursday. In an hourlong floor debate, Republicans seemed to sway wavering Democrats by recounting details of vicious rapes and brutal killings.