A.M. Splash: CPUC Says PG&E Collected Millions for Improvements Never Made; Oakland Layoffs
- State report says PG&E collected millions from ratepayers for improvements it never made (SJ Mercury News)
PG&E could face hundreds of millions of dollars in fines stemming from the 2010 San Bruno catastrophe, after a new report Thursday from state regulators accused the company of violating numerous laws governing its natural gas operations. The report by the California Public Utility Commission’s safety division also disclosed that PG&E in recent years has collected more than a half billion dollars from ratepayers for system improvements that were never made or that exceeded the amount of money it was authorized to earn. That finding, from an audit, could make it harder for the utility to saddle its customers with 90 percent of the cost of its $2.2 billion pipeline-renovation plan, as it recently has proposed.
- Oakland to issue lay off notices to 200 workers over loss of redevelopment money (Oakland Tribune)
Pink slips will go out to more than 1,500 city employees next week, as Oakland races to meet a Feb. 1 deadline to dissolve its redevelopment agency. Although fewer than 200 employees are actually expected to lose their jobs, the City Council wants maximum flexibility as it considers major cuts to make up for the $25 million to $30 million in redevelopment funds that went to pay employee salaries.
- Santa Clara County won’t compete for jail-expansion grant (SJ Mercury News)
Flush with more than 1,000 empty jail beds, Santa Clara County supervisors have decided not to compete for state funds to rehabilitate their outdated jails after all, despite a recent report that found there was a “desperate need” for the overhaul. The board opted not to seek the possible $100 million grant, largely because the county can’t afford millions more in annual costs to staff the newly configured jails.
- Women say sheriff needs to step aside (SF Chronicle)
Veterans in San Francisco’s battle against domestic violence called for Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi to take a leave from office until the investigation into whether he physically abused his wife is resolved. And if charges are brought and he is found guilty, they said, he should resign.
- City Gambles to Keep Lights on at Stick (Bay Citizen)
Gambling that the lights will stay on at Candlestick Park during a nationally televised football playoff game this weekend, the City of San Francisco decided to punt on plans to replace two aging electrical switches that were blamed for blackouts during the 49ers’ final regular-season home game last month.
- Federal judge sets aside $3.25 million award against San Jose police (SJ Mercury News)
A federal judge has set aside what he said was an “excessive” $3.25 million judgment against San Jose police officers accused of seizing a family’s young children and improperly placing them in protective custody. In a ruling made public Thursday, U.S. District Judge Ronald Whyte ordered a new trial on the damages the jury awarded after finding that San Jose police violated the civil rights of the family in June 2005.
- Oakland Running Festival moves to Lake Merritt over concerns about Occupy Oakland (Oakland Tribune)
The popular Oakland Running Festival is moving from Frank H. Ogawa Plaza to Lake Merritt following recent problems with Occupy Oakland at the downtown plaza. Corrigan Sports Enterprises announced Thursday that the marathon, half-marathon, four-person relay and 5K on March 25 will start at Snow Park, off Lakeside Drive at Lake Merritt. For the past two years, the races, which last year drew about 7,300 runners and pumped $3 million into the city, have started and finished at Ogawa plaza in front of City Hall.
- Burning Christmas trees at Ocean Beach illegal (SF Chronicle)
National Park Service rangers say the popular tradition of burning Christmas trees on San Francisco’s Ocean Beach is illegal – and violators could get slapped with a substantial fine. On Sunday, residents gathered for the 22nd annual Post-Yule Pyre, a loosely organized bonfire fueled by hundreds of discarded Christmas trees.
- Judge rules: Innovative Bay Area development guidelines are flawed (Contra Costa Times)
Development review guidelines meant to cut air pollution, the first of their kind when approved in 2010, are in limbo after a judge ruled their adoption by the region’s air board was flawed.One building industry leader predicted the ruling would force a rewrite of land-use guidelines that he said delay and add costs to “infill” development of homes and businesses from San Jose to Oakland and Walnut Creek…Bay Area air quality regulators reacted cautiously, saying the future of the guidelines isn’t clear because its adoption was overturned for improper procedure, not the content.
- SF official makes last-ditch effort to keep 49ers in town (SF Examiner)
The impending exodus of the 49ers to a new home in Santa Clara has been accepted as sad but true by many in San Francisco, including Mayor Ed Lee. But others are not going to let the Niners go so easily — at least not without a Hail Mary pitch to keep the team in town. In his capacity as a longtime fan, Planning Commissioner Mike Antonini is trying to gather enough steam from investors to create basic architectural drawings and revive the idea of a new stadium near Candlestick Park in Hunters Point.