- Mayor puts swearing-in off a while (SF Chronicle)
The mayor on Wednesday said he intends to delay his swearing-in as lieutenant governor unless the Board of Supervisors appoints a successor he approves of before its last scheduled meeting on Jan. 4. Pushing back his swearing-in from Jan. 3 until Jan. 8 would allow the incoming Board of Supervisors, with four new members elected in November, to appoint his successor.
"I want to leave on the third, which means they have to have a special board (meeting) and an 11-0 vote for an interim mayor ... and then I'm gone," Newsom told The Chronicle's editorial board Wednesday, outlining a highly unlikely scenario.
"If that can't happen, then perhaps on the fourth they find someone that we think is wonderful ... and I'll run up and get sworn in quietly, get my dad to do it or something," Newsom said. "If it has to be the eighth, I concur with your assertion that it's perhaps in the best interest of the city."
- Marin district reports large wastewater spill, claim contractor error or 'environmental terrorism' (Marin Independent Journal)
Ross Valley Sanitary District officials reported Wednesday afternoon that 842,000 gallons of wastewater spilled in Kentfield on Friday evening and they placed blame on either a contractor for allowing construction debris to block the sewage system or on "environmental terrorism." The spill was discovered at about 7 p.m. Friday. Manholes at several locations in Kentfield overflowed. The district said that 105,000 gallons of the 842,000-gallon spill were recovered. The balance flowed into stormwater drains, which empty into Corte Madera Creek and San Francisco Bay.
- Marin braces for week of Christmas rains (Marin Independent Journal)
...after a two-day break on Thursday and Friday, more rain is expected, with 1 to 2 inches over Christmas weekend and showers continuing through the end of next week, according to the National Weather Service. The latest storm system is a result of cold polar air clashing with warm, moist air, said Bill Patzert of the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
- PG&E pushed controversial pipeline inspection plan (SF Chronicle)
Pacific Gas and Electric Co. led the successful lobbying campaign to persuade federal regulators writing natural-gas safety rules seven years ago to endorse a pipe inspection method many experts see as deficient - the technique used on the pipeline that later failed catastrophically in San Bruno. A PG&E executive was one of the main industry proponents of the then-new testing regimen, interviews with people who were involved in the rule-writing process and a Chronicle review of documents show.
- Oakland sues to close three hotels, claiming prostitution occurs on their property (Oakland Tribune)
A significant problem with human trafficking has led the city to sue three hotels police say are hot spots for prostitution, City Attorney John Russo said Wednesday. The public nuisance suits, filed Tuesday, will ask the court to close each hotel for a year and fine each one $25,000, though Russo said he'd prefer to have the hotel operators solve the problem by doing a better job keeping prostitution off the premises.
- Fiona Ma's anti-rave bill criticized as too broad (SF Chronicle)
A bill by a San Francisco assemblywoman who wants to ban raves at public venues in California is being criticized as too broad because it could forbid many other kinds of parties. Assemblywoman Fiona Ma, D-San Francisco, said she simply wants to ban raves from publicly owned venues, such as Daly City's Cow Palace and the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. She said the drug-fueled dance parties are typically unruly and have led to numerous deaths, overdoses and arrests.
- SF's Doyle Drive deal blocked by court (SF Chronicle)
An Alameda County judge issued a temporary restraining order Wednesday preventing Caltrans from turning construction and maintenance of part of the Doyle Drive reconstruction project over to a foreign consortium, just before the state is expected to sign the contract to enter into the public-private partnership. A public employees union, Professional Engineers in California Government, filed a request Tuesday in Alameda County Superior Court for the temporary restraining order. It follows the Monday release of a state Legislative Analyst's Office report that calls the arrangement a bad deal, and suggests the state not sign the contract.
- Release of 'landfill gas' shuts down portion of Santa Clara County park (San Jose Mercury News)
The Santa Clara County Parks Department has shut down a portion of the Almaden Quicksilver County Park in South San Jose indefinitely after a landfill company released a noxious byproduct of methane gas into a creek. The Regional Water Quality Control Board called the parks department's environmental officer Tuesday about an "uncontrolled release of condensate liquid" at the Guadalupe Rubbish Disposal landfill in San Jose on Guadalupe Mines Road. "We don't know if this is hazardous to humans or animals," said Jim O'Connor, deputy director of park operations. "But our rangers smelled a really noxious, strong odor today, too."
- Quan Launches Search for New City Administrator (Bay Citizen)
Oakland Mayor-elect Jean Quan said the national search for a new city administrator was launched Wednesday. Quan said she chose the Sacramento-area based firm Ralph Andersen & Associates to work with a team of current and former municipal administrators to find someone for the job. The new city administrator will replace Dan Lindheim.
- Videotaped confessions helping prosecutors win Oakland cases (Oakland Tribune)
...Under pressure from the Alameda County Public Defender's Office and after questions were raised about how it conducted its investigation in the killing of journalist Chauncey Bailey, the Oakland Police Department finally relented and began videotaping its interrogation of suspects. Those videos are now making their way before juries, giving prosecutors another vital tool and taking away a common defense tactic of raising doubts about the police department's interrogation methods.
- Researchers find way to minimize mercury in San Francisco Bay (SF Examiner)
New research from the University of San Francisco has zeroed in on a way to limit the amount of mercury entering the food chain in San Francisco Bay. Assistant professor Allison Luengen, who has been studying the pollutant for seven years, said her research aims to limit the amount entering the Bay’s ecosystem by understanding how the chemical is absorbed.
- Appellate court: Santa Cruz organic dill grower has right to sue neighboring farm for 'pesticide drift' (Santa Cruz Sentinel)
Four years ago, the president of Jacobs Farm/Del Cabo, Larry Jacobs, received an unfortunate phone call from Whole Foods. The retail giant notified him that it was rejecting the organic dill he had sold the chain because the herb had tested positive for pesticides. "I said that's not possible," Jacobs recalled. "I haven't sprayed pesticides since I got sick spraying pesticides 40 years ago." As it turns out, Jacob's 120-acre herb farm, just north of Santa Cruz in Wilder Ranch State Park, was the victim of a hard-to-detect but relatively simple scientific process: Pesticides applied in liquid form to nearby Brussels sprouts later evaporated and were carried in vapor, through wind or fog, to Jacob's dill.
This week, California's 6th District Court of Appeal in San Jose upheld Jacob's right to sue the pesticide applicator, Western Farm Service, and let stand the $1 million award a jury handed Jacobs two years ago. The ruling becomes final in 30 days.
- New California law cracking down on online impersonators to go into effect Jan. 1 (Bay City News Service)
A new law that will go into effect on Jan. 1 could bring online impersonators heavy fines or even jail time. According to SB 1411 -- authored by state Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto, and signed into law in late September by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger -- anyone who assumes the identity of another person to intentionally harm, intimidate, threaten or defraud may be charged with a misdemeanor.
- IBM Predicts Holographic Calls, Air-Breathing Batteries by 2015 (Bloomberg)
By 2015, your mobile phone will project a 3-D image of anyone who calls and your laptop will be powered by kinetic energy. At least that’s what International Business Machines Corp. sees in its crystal ball. The predictions are part of an annual tradition for Armonk, New York-based company, which surveys its 3,000 researchers to find five ideas expected to take root in the next five years. IBM, the world’s largest provider of computer services, looks to Silicon Valley for input, gleaning many ideas from its Almaden research center in San Jose, California.