- San Francisco to help merchants on disabled access (SF Chronicle)
When annual health permit mailings go out to San Francisco restaurants next month, they'll include something new: an explainer about disability access laws and tips on reducing the risk of being sued. The notice is part of a broader campaign introduced by city officials Thursday to educate small businesses about their legal rights and responsibilities after a raft of lawsuits against merchants in recent months.
- Quan names union leader Cornu to top mayoral staff (Oakland Tribune)
Mayor Jean Quan is almost done assembling her core staff, as she announced Thursday she's hiring union leader Sharon Cornu as her top aide in intergovernmental affairs. Cornu, who will coordinate with Sacramento and federal agencies for Oakland, has been a force in local politics for years. She has led political programs in the AFL-CIO's 100,000-member umbrella labor organization in Alameda County since 2003. Last May, she was tapped to serve as national field director for the AFL-CIO, where she worked on helping Democrats try to hold Congressional seats and win key governorships. She was named Woman of the Year by Assemblyman Sandre Swanson in 2007.
- San Jose area bankruptcies set all-time record (San Jose Mercury News)
Bankruptcies filed in San Jose hit an all-time high last year, as more than 13,000 people and businesses were overwhelmed by debts in the third year of the Great Recession. The flood of filings is a 16 percent jump over 2009, and court officials and lawyers expect this year to be as bad if not worse.
- San Francisco schools went without heat as cold winter weather hit Bay Area (SF Examiner)
Temperatures in San Francisco dipped to 40-degree lows the first week of the new year. During at least three days during the cold snap, about a half-dozen classrooms in the 1,174-student school located in the Forest Hill neighborhood were without heat, according to San Francisco Unified School District Chief Facilities Operator David Goldin.
- Hill tells CPUC it failed San Bruno blast victims (Bay Area News Group)
Assemblyman Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, blasted the California Public Utilities Commission at its meeting Thursday, saying the panel has failed the state's people and residents of San Bruno, where a gas pipeline exploded and eight people died. "I do not have the confidence that this commission will do its job," Hill told the CPUC board at its first meeting of 2011. "This commission has failed the people of California, especially the residents in my district, by your culture of complacency."
- 'Block-by-block' cleanup begins this weekend in East Oakland (Oakland Tribune)
An area a few blocks deep in East Oakland, struggling with a host of woes in recent years, will be the first site of the hands-on, "block-by-block" neighborhood improvement efforts Mayor Jean Quan touted during her campaign. Quan and council President Larry Reid will join hundreds of volunteers expected Saturday and Monday in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day for a street cleanup in police Beat 33X, several blocks around the area of International Boulevard and 82nd Avenue. The cleanup will begin at Allen Temple Baptist Church at 8501 International Blvd. about 8:30 a.m. Saturday. Volunteers will spread out from there, picking up trash and helping clean the area.
- After Scandal, SF Schools Chief Vows Reform (Bay Citizen)
San Francisco school officials are enacting sweeping reforms of district accounting practices after a group of administrators allegedly diverted money from after-school programs for their personal use, Superintendent Carlos Garcia said. Garcia said the district intends to tighten its accounting procedures, hire an internal auditor and competitively bid contracts with organizations that run after-school programs and other services
- GG Bridge violating protesters' rights, judge says (SF Chronicle)
The Golden Gate Bridge District is violating demonstrators' rights by requiring small groups to obtain permits to use the walkway, banning bullhorns and handle-held signs, and barring protests after 2 p.m. on weekends, a federal judge has ruled. The rules prevent spontaneous demonstrations, make other protests much harder to see or hear, and do little to promote traffic safety, U.S. District Judge Marilyn Hall Patel said in a Jan. 7 ruling.
- State has plan to save child care subsidies (SF Chronicle)
Assembly Speaker John Pérez will announce today that state officials have found a way to save child care subsidies for 55,000 low-income families - a program that then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger tried to eliminate last year...Under a plan Pérez will announce today, state officials will use $60 million in child care funds left from previous years to fund the subsidies through March. The program's funding would be restored April 1 under Gov. Jerry Brown's budget proposal unveiled this week.
- Oakland Councilmember Ignacio De La Fuente won't face DUI charges (Oakland Tribune)
Councilmember Ignacio De La Fuente, who was arrested and detained after failing a field sobriety test last month, will not be charged with driving under the influence, the Alameda County District Attorney's Office said Thursday. Although De La Fuente failed the field sobriety test and was considered impaired by a California Highway Patrol officer, District Attorney Nancy O'Malley's office decided it did not have enough evidence to charge the 61-year-old with misdemeanor DUI.
- Struggling KALW Gets Boost from School District (Bay Citizen)
With fundraising hauls taking a hit from the recession, KALW 91.7 FM, an independent public radio station in San Francisco, is set to receive a $200,000 loan from the cash-strapped San Francisco Unified School District.
- Alioto-Lazio Fish Co. closes, at least for now (SF Chronicle)
The family that owns Alioto-Lazio Fish Co., an iconic crab and fish wholesaler on Fisherman's Wharf for more than 70 years, announced at least a temporary closure Thursday, citing problems caused by the cleanup of contaminated waters near the business. The cleanup project, which began Dec. 29, stems from a 2008 lawsuit that the city filed against Exxon Mobil Corp. claiming that the oil giant was responsible for contaminated water and soil where the company once maintained fuel storage tanks.
- Gascon, a former Republican, becomes a Democrat ahead of political run (SF Examiner)
George Gascón might be preparing to be a prosecutor, but he is already thinking like a politician. On Thursday, the former police chief quietly changed his party affiliation to Democrat as he prepares to run for district attorney in the liberal stronghold of San Francisco, The San Francisco Examiner has learned.
- Golden Gate Bridge committee delays decision on eliminating toll-takers (Marin Independent Journal)
Worrying the Golden Gate Bridge would lose its "ambassadors," a committee on Thursday delayed a decision on a plan to eliminate toll-takers from the span. Earlier this week bridge officials unveiled a plan to eliminate all 32 toll-takers by December 2012 in order to help cut the district's $89 million deficit. Tolls on the span would then be taken electronically.
- Search for S.F. Fed president reflects old fight (SF Chronicle)
To the tourists who pose beneath its decorative walkway, the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco may seem like an ordinary skyscraper, but to students of American history, the high-rise bears mute witness to the constant struggle between bankers and borrowers to control the cost of credit. The current flash point in this ongoing feud is the search to replace Janet Yellen, the ex-UC Berkeley economist who had been president of the San Francisco Fed before being appointed last year to an even more powerful post at the Federal Reserve Board of Governors in Washington, D.C.
- Oakland's New Mayor Talks Up Redevelopment (Bay Citizen)
In one of her first public appearances since she was sworn in as Oakland's new mayor, Jean Quan delivered an upbeat message to the Oakland Rotary Club, telling the audience, "I want you to take another look at Oakland," and outlining her plans for the city's economic redevelopment. Quan said she wanted to attract more retail stores to the city and to open a new library in one of Oakland's poorest neighborhoods, acknowledging at the same time that the economy was still ailing.>
- Intel reports blockbuster financial year (San Jose Mercury News)
Continuing its robust emergence from the recession, Santa Clara chip-making giant Intel on Thursday reported its best financial year ever, with 2010 sales totaling $43.6 billion, an increase of $8.5 billion -- or 24 percent -- from the previous year. Its profit for the year was $11.7 billion, an improvement of 167 percent over 2009.
- Mavericks surf contest organizers want fans to stay home (Bay City News Service)
Fans of big-wave surfing will find it a lot more difficult to get a firsthand look at the Mavericks competition in Half Moon Bay this year, as viewing spots on coastal bluffs and beaches will be closed to public access. Representatives from the Half Moon Bay Surf Group, which is organizing this year's Jay at Mavericks Big Wave Invitational, joined an array of public safety agencies at a meeting Thursday to announce the closures and discuss the logistics of protecting the public, the environment and competitors at the event.
- Two popular Redwood City parks to reopen -- without sandboxes (Palo Alto Daily News)
Two Redwood City parks that had high levels of E. coli bacteria in their sandboxes will reopen by next week with new water play areas -- and no sand. It's been two years since the city received a call from a grandmother of two children who said they became sick immediately after playing for several hours at Stafford Park, said Christopher Beth, the city's parks and recreation director. "We decided to test the sand and it showed high levels of E. coli and Coliform bacteria," Beth said. Additional testing revealed a similar problem at Maddux Park, but inexplicably not within the city's other parks, at least not at high levels, Beth added.