Morning Splash: BART Protests – Arrests, Powell Station Shutdown; Obama Jobs Plan; So. Cal. Power Restored; Solyndra; San Bruno a Year Later
- BART protesters arrested – Powell Station closed (SF Chronicle)
A crowd of chanting protesters converged on the Powell Street BART Station Thursday night and confronted police in riot gear, who formed a wall to block them from approaching the pay gates and then closed the station for two hours. At least 50 protesters chanted “No justice, no peace” as they confronted officers. Several screamed and tussled with police as they were arrested in yet another episode of commuting delays and havoc on the besieged system.
- Obama to Congress: ‘Pass this jobs bill’ (NY Times)
Mixing politically moderate proposals with a punchy tone, President Barack Obama challenged lawmakers Thursday to “pass this jobs bill” — a blunt call on Congress to enact his $447 billion package of tax cuts and new government spending designed to revive a stalling economy as well as his own political standing. Speaking to a joint session of Congress, Obama ticked off a list of measures that he emphasized had been supported by both Republicans and Democrats in the past. To keep the proposals from adding to the swelling federal deficit, Obama also said he would set his sights on a more ambitious target for long-term reduction of the deficit.
- A rare sight in the state Capitol: Assembly passes bipartisan tax-relief package (Bay Area News Group)
Amid unrelenting partisan strife in California and the nation’s capital, a glimmer of cooperation glinted in the state Capitol on Thursday. Only hours after Gov. Jerry Brown stood alongside two Republican assemblymen to herald a bipartisan agreement on taxes, the Assembly on a two-thirds vote approved legislation to provide $1 billion in tax relief to California businesses and individuals while closing a loophole that benefits out-of-state corporations. But it was unclear late Thursday whether the Senate Democrats could muster the two GOP votes needed to approve the package in time before the legislative session ends Friday.
- Calif. farmworker bill, gun open-carry ban advance (SF Chronicle)
State lawmakers approved a slew of bills Thursday as today’s legislative deadline loomed, pushing through dozens of measures on largely party-line votes, including ones aimed at making it easier for farmworkers to unionize and another banning the practice of openly carrying unloaded handguns in public. The Assembly easily approved state Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg’s SB126, which would punish employers who interfere with a union election. Currently, the Agricultural Labor Relations Board simply orders a new election if intimidation or other interference occurs. The Sacramento Democrat’s bill, which has also been passed by the Senate, would instead allow unionization to move forward in such cases.
- Power restored to all 1.4 million customers (San Diego Union Tribune)
SDG&E officials said Friday that power has been restored to all 1.4 million customers in the region. The outage, which affected some 5 million people from Mexico to Orange County started about 3:30 p.m Thursday and lasted about 12 hours, said Dave Geier, SDG&E’s Vice President of Electrical Operations.
- FBI agents search Solyndra’s Fremont headquarters (Bay Area News Group)
Federal agents searched Solyndra’s Fremont headquarters Thursday, just days after the high-profile solar manufacturer filed for bankruptcy protection and a week before its top executives are expected to testify before Congress. The surprise raid is believed to be related to Solyndra’s controversial $535 million loan guarantee from the U.S. Department of Energy and comes amid heightened scrutiny from Washington lawmakers who want to know how a company that was once President Barack Obama’s poster child for clean technology imploded so quickly.
- Stark calls on Solyndra execs to compensate laid off workers (Milpitas Post)
In the wake of Solyndra’s abrupt closure last week, local politicians and those in Washington are calling for investigations into the events that led to the solar company’s demise. Rep. Pete Stark, D-Fremont, last Friday called for Solyndra’s chief executive officer to provide compensation and benefits to all 1,100 employees his firm laid off Aug. 31.
- One year after blast, San Bruno still isn’t whole (SF Chronicle)
…City records show that just seven of 38 families who lost homes have acquired new building permits. An additional 13 heavily damaged houses remain vacant. Roughly a dozen families haven’t even reached out to the city, said City Manager Connie Jackson, “which tells us they’re still trying to decide what to do.” While some residents dig in, others have opted for a fresh start somewhere else.
- PG&E wants gas pressure restored (San Jose Mercury News)
Faced with PG&E’s assertion that customers could suffer this winter if pressure isn’t restored in some natural-gas pipelines where it was cut after the San Bruno disaster, state regulators on Thursday agreed to quickly consider one such increase but vowed to carefully review the rest. “We will only allow PG&E to do so through a public and transparent process and after PG&E has presented evidence that it’s the right thing to do,” said Mike Florio, one of the five members of the California Public Utilities Commission that issued the decision.
- Congress locked in battle over pipeline testing (SF Chronicle)
A year after the San Bruno explosion, Congress is at a standstill over whether to close a loophole in federal pipeline safety law that allowed Pacific Gas and Electric Co. to avoid testing its doomed transmission line for a type of problem that caused the pipe’s failure. The fight is over the grandfather clause, which allows pipeline operators to avoid pressure-testing pipelines that they put in the ground before 1970.
- Stanford medical records posted on public website, now removed (San Jose Mercury News)
The electronic medical records of 20,000 Stanford Hospital emergency room patients, including names and diagnostic codes, were posted on a commercial website, the hospital disclosed Thursday. Personal information about patients seen between March 1 and Aug. 31, 2009, has been removed from the website and an investigation is under way, according to Stanford Hospital spokesman Gary Migdol.
- >House Republicans Threaten Central Subway Funding (Bay Citizen)
The future of San Francisco’s proposed Central Subway has been thrown into doubt after House Republicans announced a plan to slash federal funding for transit projects around the country. Under current projections, about $984 million — or 60 percent — of the Central Subway’s $1.6 billion total cost would come from federal sources, but a bill released Wednesday by a House subcommittee would prohibit transit projects from receiving more than half of their funding from Washington.
- The politics of school closures in Oakland (Oakland Tribune)
Last month, as the Oakland school district embarked on the painful process of closing some of its 101 schools, the school board approved a criteria to help determine which ones would go. Board members talked about looking at the district as a whole, rather than zeroing in on certain schools in their respective districts. That was all before anyone named names.