A.M. Splash: Poll — Californians OK on Taxing Rich; Calif. GOP Meets in Burlingame; Norovirus Hits Contra Costa Schools; DOMA Ruling Appealed
- Field Poll: Californians willing to tax wealthy (SF Chronicle)
After years of austere state budgets and frustration among Democratic lawmakers who have tried unsuccessfully to increase taxes, a new poll shows the majority of voters are ready to raise the wealthiest Californians’ income taxes.
- California Republicans meet in Burlingame to ponder their relevance (SJ Mercury News)
…As activists descend on the Bay Area this weekend for the state GOP’s spring convention, the California Republican Party has been struck with a few hard realities: The Republicans’ registration numbers are down to an all-time low: 30.4 percent. They’re almost broke. And Gov. Jerry Brown began the year announcing he would pursue a tax-hike initiative and dismissed Republicans as politically irrelevant, after pursuing them like a desperate suitor in 2010.
- San Jose City Council faction seeks answers on $650 million retirement cost figure (SJ Mercury News)
Stepping up the pressure on city staff, five San Jose City Council members Thursday asked City Manager Debra Figone to explain the origins of a $650 million estimate of future pension costs that has been called into question by employee labor unions…Though the request keeps alive questions about the city’s pension cost estimates for fiscal year 2015-16, it stops far short of the full-scale independent ethics investigation that union employees want the council to launch.
- Muni drivers union seeks to undo imposed contract (SF Chronicle)
…Transport Workers Union Local 250-A, which represents about 2,000 Muni operators, will file papers in San Francisco Superior Court, asking a judge to overturn an arbitrator’s ruling that imposed a contract the union opposed and had overwhelmingly rejected in an earlier ratification vote.
- Norovirus sweeping through schools, other Bay Area facilities (Bay Area News Group)
An unusually high number of norovirus outbreaks in Bay Area schools, nursing homes and other facilities has health leaders reminding people to protect themselves from the stomach-churning bug. Nearly 30 schools in Contra Costa County have reported suspected cases within the past two months. The schools remained open but principals notified parents, and custodians scrubbed desks and tables with bleach-and-water solutions.
- Republican group appeals ruling striking down federal gay marriage ban (SJ Mercury News)
Moving swiftly, gay marriage foes on Friday appealed a San Francisco federal judge’s order this week finding the federal government’s ban on same-sex marriage benefits unconstitutional. In court papers, a group of congressional Republicans defending the federal gay marriage ban revealed they are appealing the ruling to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The 9th Circuit will become the second federal appeals court to now consider the legality of the Defense of Marriage Act, a 16-year-old law known as DOMA.
- Google agrees to do-not-track button (SF Chronicle)
Amid swirling discussion on how tech companies handle privacy issues, Google on Thursday became the latest Internet giant to support adding a do-not-track button to its Web browser. No time frame was set for changing the Chrome browser to include a do-not-track feature, which would prevent companies from using information gleaned from a user’s Web history to deliver tailored advertising.
- Silicon Valley Neighbors, Facing Vastly Different Tax Rates (Bay Citizen)
…(I)n a time of deep cuts to education, health care and other state services, valuations on commercial property are inconsistent and sometimes strikingly low. For example, according to county records, the assessed value of one 13.7-acre tract underlying part of Google’s headquarters is $789,635, producing an estimated tax rate of 1.3 cents a square foot, far less than most neighboring properties.
- Stockton city manager seeks new authority in wake of bankruptcy (Stockton Record)
City Manager Bob Deis on Tuesday will ask the City Council to give him authority to suspend certain debt payments, continue the state of fiscal emergency and launch an investigation into those responsible for Stockton’s present financial disaster. Deis’ actions come as Stockton seeks bankruptcy protection because it cannot pay its bills. City Hall this morning issued a revised agenda for Tuesday’s meeting that includes these items and a request to begin a mediation period with the city’s major debtors, which is a first major hurdle before filing bankruptcy.
- California gas prices up 23 cents in past week (SJ Mercury News)
Gas prices skyrocketed an astonishing 23 cents in a week in California, to $4.14 a gallon, and are on a sharp rise across the country, setting off loud grumbling Thursday from motorists and prompting President Barack Obama to fire back at critics who blame him. The current California price is the highest it has been at this time of year, and analysts predict $4.50- or even $5-a-gallon gas by Memorial Day.