- San Bruno fire: NTSB chair rips PG&E's records (SF Chronicle)
Pacific Gas and Electric Co.'s record-keeping blunders leading up to the San Bruno natural-gas explosion indicate the need for "a new perspective on safety culture" throughout the industry, the chairwoman of the National Transportation Safety Board said Wednesday. Deborah Hersman described how her investigators learned shortly after the 30-inch transmission pipeline exploded Sept. 9 that PG&E had no clue about the line's characteristics, and said that to this day the company has been unable to find basic records on the manufacture and 1956 installation of the pipe. By law, companies are supposed to retain such documentation and use it to check for potential threats to pipelines.
- CPUC pushed to conduct public investigation of San Bruno disaster (San Jose Mercury News)
Characterizing the ongoing inquiries into the San Bruno natural gas disaster as disjointed and largely private, two prominent politicians and consumer groups Wednesday urged California regulators to launch a more coordinated public investigation into the accident. "It's important that we have a formal, transparent process that assures the public that pipeline safety is of paramount importance and that things are safe in communities throughout California," said San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera. That's the best way, he added, to ensure "we get all the facts out
- Budget cuts likely to shut some California parks (Sacramento Bee)
After spending a century building the nation's largest and most majestic state park system, Californians are poised to do something unprecedented: Retreat from that legacy and start closing parks.
...mayors of nine of California's largest cities, including Los Angeles and San Francisco, met with Brown at the Capitol to press against his plan to eliminate redevelopment agencies. They said the infrastructure projects they fund are needed to create jobs. "We're not going to go down quietly," Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson said. The mayors said Brown agreed to create a "working group" to discuss the matter, asking cities to propose alternative spending reductions.
About 100 people gathered outside City Hall on Wednesday in protest of the proposed Nortenos gang injunction that has sparked controversy in Oakland, from its neighborhoods to its courtrooms and political debates. The proposed injunction, raised by City Attorney John Russo and targeting 40 suspected gang members in the Fruitvale district, is argued by proponents as an unused tool in combating the city's struggle with violent crime. They say 13 of the named defendants have already been arrested for crimes the injunction could have helped prevent.
Gov. Jerry Brown is embarking on his plan to tame the state budget deficit with a reservoir of support, though he will have to tread lightly through voters' hostility toward taxes, according to a new survey by the Public Policy Institute of California. Two-thirds of Californian respondents like Brown's call for a June special election on extending temporary hikes in income, auto and sales taxes for five years, and a solid majority supports the tax plan itself. That's much stronger backing than Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger had for the two special elections he led in 2005 and 2009.
Dozens of protesters came to Wednesday's Oakland school board meeting to speak out against the fatal shooting of 20-year-old Raheim Brown by a school district police officer on Saturday night. "My son was murdered by your police officers," said Lori Davis. "I want to know who killed my son. I want all the information." Brown and a 20-year-old woman were parked on Joaquin Miller Road with their hazard lights on when they were approached by a pair of Oakland Schools Police officers who had been patrolling the area outside of a Skyline High School dance at a park facility, Oakland Schools Police Chief Pete Sarna said. Police said Brown and the woman were in a stolen car but that they didn't know it at the time.
A veteran San Jose police officer shot and killed a man who was attacking a fellow officer with knives, law enforcement officials reported a day after the fatal encounter in the foothills. The Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office identified Officer Geeno Gular, a 42-year-old Iraq War veteran, as the officer who fired the shots. As is usual with all officer-involved shootings, Gular, who has been on the force since 1994 and served in several elite investigative units, has been put on paid administrative leave, pending the outcome of an investigation.
Under a plan in the works, most Marin residents whose medical care is paid for by Medi-Cal will be overseen beginning July 1 by Partnership HealthPlan of California, a managed care organization. Partnership HealthPlan, a Fairfield-based nonprofit, specializes in reducing Medi-Cal expenditures by providing Medi-Cal patients with improved preventative care. Medi-Cal provides health care coverage to low-income California residents.
Oakland animal care officers were struggling this week to find homes for dozens of pit bulls rescued in one of the largest animal cruelty busts in decades. "It was horrific, absolutely terrible," said Oakland police Officer Sarah Whitmeyer, who helped lead the raid on a squalid East Oakland home.
When the Faculty Senate at Stanford University began to examine the possible return of the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps to campus last year, the discussion was assumed to be purely hypothetical. Phased out from campus in 1973 amid anti-war sentiment, ROTC was thought to be a strictly off-campus option for Stanford students who still wanted to participate in the program.Recent developments, however, reveal that the university reintroduced not-for-credit ROTC classes back to campus more than a decade ago, unbeknownst to most faculty and students. The classes, part of Santa Clara University’s Army ROTC program, have been taught on campus since 1997.
Fruit vendors, book stores, technology centers and take-out restaurants might someday replace the drab, mostly featureless environs of BART stations. Today, the agency’s board of directors could authorize negotiations with a private company on a proposal that would transform stations into commercial centers.
The economic storm that has battered the North Coast wine industry since 2008 appears to be over. Three years of slumping wine sales finally hit bottom in 2010, analysts said Wednesday at the annual Unified Wine & Grape Symposium in Sacramento, the largest wine industry conference in the United States.