Morning Splash: 7 Gas Leaks Found Near Cupertino Explosion; Oakland Crime Woes; Dems, Retailers Pan Amazon Offer on Sales Tax
- PG&E finds 7 gas leaks near Cupertino explosion that burned home (San Jose Mercury News)
A day after federal investigators chastised PG&E for “a “litany of failures” in last year’s San Bruno blast, a loud explosion blew away a Cupertino home’s garage door, and several underground gas pipes in the area were found leaking, authorities said Thursday. Pacific Gas & Electric crews found seven leaks in the 2-inch pipes that distribute gas to homes in the area near the explosion. But investigators are still unsure exactly what caused Wednesday’s blast.
- PG&E fires four inspectors (San Jose Mercury News)
PG&E has fired four inspectors after an internal investigation determined they falsely claimed to have inspected some of the company’s underground electrical gear, and four others were disciplined. The probe, which PG&E launched in November after receiving an employee’s tip about the phony inspections, was first disclosed publicly in June. Over the past two months, the company reinspected nearly 25,000 underground enclosures containing various electrical equipment and found 25 where inspectors had falsely claimed to have inspected them, according to PG&E spokesman Andrew Souvall.
- Job Growth at Halt in U.S.; Worst Showing in 11 Months (NY Times)
The economy failed to add new jobs in August, the first time there has been no increase in net jobs in the United States in 11 months. The flat performance was down sharply from a revised 85,000 gain of jobs in July, the Labor Department said Friday, and was far below a consensus forecast by economists of 60,000 new jobs. The unemployment rate stayed constant at 9.1 percent in August.
- Federal appeals court rejects wrongful death case against Santa Clara cops (San Jose Mercury News)
A federal appeals court rejected a wrongful death lawsuit against the Santa Clara police department, finding officers acted reasonably when they shot and killed a young rapper who turned violent at a 2008 house party. In a short ruling, two 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals judges on Wednesday upheld an earlier decision by a San Jose judge who tossed the lawsuit filed by the family of Aziz Howard Raqmond James. James, considered a rising Bay area hip-hop star known as Almighty Aziz, stabbed two friends and a police dog before he was fatally shot by police who arrived at the scene.
- Navy promises Hunters Point cleanup by 2017 (SF Chronicle)
In its heyday, San Francisco’s Hunters Point Naval Shipyard was home to 17,000 men and women who stripped and repaired battleships, submarines and destroyers. Today, it’s the site of a massive, multimillion-dollar environmental cleanup as the Navy tries to remove dozens of chemicals, toxins and heavy metals – the essential tools of the original repair efforts – from the soil, ground water and shoreline of the old base.
- S.F. animal shelter full as economy goes to dogs (SF Chronicle)
With hard-pressed pet owners surrendering their animals in booming numbers, the city’s Animal Care and Control agency has issued an unprecedented order: Don’t bring your dog here. The shelter is full.
- Handicapped drivers outraged by Oakland’s new parking enforcement (Oakland Tribune)
About a week ago, Oakland reversed a long-standing parking enforcement practice and began ticketing cars with handicapped stickers if the drivers had not paid the meters in off-street city lots. Parking Director Noel Pinto made the change without informing Mayor Jean Quan or the City Council, according to Quan, Councilmember Pat Kernighan (Grand Lake-Chinatown), and several furious Grand Avenue shop owners, who said they were outraged and their businesses were harmed by the surprise turnaround.
- Oakland police recovering fewer guns (Oakland Tribune)
A spike in violent crimes in recent weeks is putting pressure on Oakland City Hall to answer hard questions about how to stem the violence. But little consensus exists among city leaders about what steps need to be taken next. Mayor Jean Quan is focusing on rehiring some of the 80 laid-off police officers and drawing support from federal law enforcement. She has been critical of proposals to create a youth curfew and expand gang injunctions into West Oakland and East Oakland, where the violence is most pronounced. She hasn’t outright rejected either plan, but she said she’d prefer anti-loitering laws and individual injunctions.
- Many ideas, divided priorities at Oakland City Hall over severe summer violence (Oakland Tribune)
For the past five years Oakland police have recovered an average of more than 1,400 guns a year — many seized from criminals, and others turned in by residents who no longer want them in their homes. But those statistics are on track to take a nose-dive this year, and not because there are fewer guns on the streets. It’s because budget cuts have left the city with fewer law enforcement personnel for specialized enforcement teams who used to target gun crimes, officials say.
- Partisan Politicking Obscures Growth of Solar Power (Bay Citizen)
The surprise announcement Wednesday that Solyndra, the Fremont-based solar power company, would immediately close its doors prompted a round of gleeful I-told-you-so’s from Republican Party leaders who have long opposed the Obama administration’s green energy programs in general and the $535 million federal loan guarantee for Solyndra in particular. But industry officials and analysts say the partisan knife fight obscures a larger point: that the very economic forces that helped drive Solyndra out of business — namely competition from Chinese manufacturers — are actually contributing to the expansion of solar power in California. Building solar panels in Fremont with government subsidies proved to be a poor means of creating jobs, but the growth of solar as an electricity source continues to accelerate, and that has job-creation (and environmental) benefits of its own.
- California Democrats, backed by business, roll out last-minute proposal on regulations (Sacramento Bee)
…With one week left in the legislative session, Democrats rolled out a last-minute proposal that requires additional review of new state regulations, backed by the chamber and the California Manufacturers and Technology Association. The fact that business groups and Democrats are embracing one another in the open may be as important as the bill itself. The majority party senses an opportunity to gain well-financed business allies over the next year, most notably on a November 2012 ballot package asking voters to raise taxes.
- Democratic lawmakers, business leaders pan Amazon’s offer as a ‘ploy’ (Bay Area News Group)
Amazon.com’s promise to create 7,000 new jobs in exchange for a two-year reprieve on sales taxes had to be awfully tempting to Sacramento leaders desperate for good news on the jobs front. But most legislators and business groups, after having more time to absorb the details by Thursday, viewed the offer as too good to be true, panning it as an attempt to stall for time.
- Judge throws out $1.3 billion verdict in Oracle case against SAP (San Jose Mercury News)
A federal judge Thursday threw out a record $1.3 billion damage award that business software giant Oracle won against archrival SAP in a bitter copyright dispute that captivated the tech industry when it went before a jury last year. The ruling opens the door to a replay of last year’s high-stakes trial, in which Oracle CEO Larry Ellison accused SAP officials of presiding over what he described as a massive theft of Oracle’s software. Ellison also publicly taunted former SAP executive Léo Apotheker — who had just been named CEO of Hewlett-Packard — for avoiding a summons in the case.
- Lost iPhone 5 Prototype: SFPD Says It Has No Records of Investigation (SF Weekly)
…CNET reported that San Francisco police investigators, working with Apple personnel, had traced a recently lost iPhone 5 prototype to the home of a man in Bernal Heights, who denied possessing it or having any knowledge of it. The phone was never recovered. There’s just one problem: SFPD spokesman Officer Albie Esparza says no records exist of any such activity by SFPD inspectors.