A.M. Splash: Students Face State Aid Cuts in Brown Budget; Good News on Oakland Budget; Study Details Mercury in Calif. Fish
- Cal Grant program faces cuts in governor’s budget (SF Chronicle)
Under Brown’s revised budget plan, thousands of California college students who start their education in fall of 2013 would either be unable to qualify for a Cal Grant or would receive a much smaller grant than if they had applied this year…The governor is proposing a major change and wants Cal Grants tied to the federal Pell Grants for student aid. That means if a student qualified for only half of the maximum federal award, that student would qualify for just half of the maximum Cal Grant award. Students receiving the full Pell Grant would receive the full Cal Grant. Students who currently receive a Cal Grant would be grandfathered into the program and would not be affected.
- Oakland finances on upswing (Oakland Tribune)
City leaders are pointing to better-than-expected revenue growth as a sign that Oakland’s economy is rebounding and the era of cutbacks and layoffs is fading. Spurred by robust sales and hotel tax growth, Mayor Jean Quan released a budget update Thursday that includes money for an additional police academy and restores senior center funds. The proposal, which calls for no layoffs or service cuts, will go to the City Council next month for approval.
- New study details mercury contamination in California sport fish (Bay Area News Group)
New findings from the first statewide study of contaminants in fish caught off the California coast show that methylmercury, a toxin that damages the nervous system of humans, was found in high concentrations in more than a third of the locations that researchers sampled…Seven species popular with recreational fishermen had high concentrations of methylmercury: leopard sharks, brown smoothhound sharks, spiny dogfish, copper rockfish, rosy rockfish, china rockfish and striped bass, the report stated, so children and pregnant women should not eat them.
- East Bay VA medical facilities draw health and safety violation citations (Bay Area News Group)
Federal regulators on Thursday cited four Veterans Affairs facilities in Northern California for unsafe and unhealthful working conditions, including clinics in Martinez, Oakland and Fairfield. Safety hazards were also identified at the VA hospital in Mather. Problems labeled serious by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration included blocked emergency exit doors and routes, electrical hazards and exposure to contaminated needles.
- Facebook could face huge damage claims from IPO (SJ Mercury News)
Facebook could be on the hook for $1 billion or more in damages if plaintiffs lawyers can prove allegations that the company and its bankers misled investors in its initial public offering. The Menlo Park-based social networking company and its banking partners face a slew of lawsuits in the aftermath of its bungled IPO last week, which raised $16 billion for Facebook and company insiders. The suits accuse the company of misleading investors by failing to share with them information it passed on to select Wall Street analysts — a warning that its current quarter financial results weren’t going to be as rosy as expected.
- State regulators raise existing cap on solar ‘net metering’ (SJ Mercury News)
In a huge victory for solar customers and the states’s growing solar industry, state regulators with the California Public Utilities Commission unanimously voted Thursday to effectively raise the current “cap” on net energy metering. Net metering, a popular policy that has been in place in California for 15 years, allows homeowners, school districts and businesses to offset the cost of their electricity with the rooftop solar power they generate and export to the grid. Current state law requires California’s major utilities to make net metering available to customers on a first-come, first-served basis, but the program is capped at 5 percent of a utility’s “aggregate customer peak demand.” That means that as soon as a utility gets 5 percent of its electricity from solar customers, it is no longer required to sign new contracts.
- Environmental OK for high-rises (SF Chronicle)
After five years of discussions, the Planning Commission approved an environmental plan Thursday for a new high-rise neighborhood in the heart of the city. The commission also cleared the way for as many as six new towers of up to 850 feet, although each would be smaller than the 61-story, 1,070-foot-tall Transit Tower at First and Mission streets, which would become the tallest building in San Francisco.
- Water at California beaches cleanest in years (SF Chronicle)
…Nearly every beach in the Bay Area, and throughout the state, had dramatically lower levels of bacteria and pollution than last year, according to an annual survey of 650 West Coast beaches by Heal the Bay, a Santa Monica environmental group.
- Bay Area yacht racing to resume a month after fatal Farallon Islands accident (SF Examiner)
After the deaths of five people in a crash near the Farallon Islands last month, yacht racing off the Northern California coast is set to resume this weekend, with the local sailing community vowing to improve safety and training standards to prevent future tragedies.