- San Jose officials warn of massive police and fire layoffs (San Jose Mercury News)
Sketching out a worst-case scenario of San Jose's budget meltdown, city officials warned this week that they could lay off as many as 349 police officers and 145 firefighters, slashing close to a quarter of the city's public safety employees. The city is also looking at millions of dollars in other cuts, including shutting off neighborhood streetlights for much of the night and eliminating some gang-prevention programs.
- Muni faces $1.6 billion deficit over 20 years (SF Chronicle)
Unless it can slash $30 million in spending and generate $50 million in new revenue annually, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency will face a $1.6 billion deficit over the next 20 years, a panel of financial experts told the agency's Board of Directors Tuesday...The agency board and Board of Supervisors must decide by August which tax or fee proposal - or proposals - to put before voters on the November 2012 ballot.
- S.F. State may trim its number of colleges (SF Chronicle)
After a year studying how to save money without harming academic quality, a faculty panel says San Francisco State University could save $1 million by collapsing its eight colleges into six. That's $1 million down, $31 million to go. The campus expects to have to cut that much from its budget as the entire California State University system prepares to lose at least $500 million in state funding for next year.
Gov. Jerry Brown issued an executive order Tuesday freezing state hiring but exempting whole swaths of the state government involved in public safety and undefined "core functions." Brown's order is intended to help save $363 million in state operational costs. It follows earlier moves to cut back on state cell phone and vehicle use.
The Oakland school district for years has relied on high teacher attrition rates and one-time funds to avoid the layoffs of tenured K-12 classroom teachers. This year could be different. A letter from Superintendent Tony Smith that was posted on the district's website Tuesday said a "significant" number of teachers, as well as nonteaching staff, soon will receive a notice in the mail that they might not have a job next school year. The district also plans to notify all principals and some other managers that they might be reassigned to a new position in the fall.
The financial plight of the city of San Francisco is so dire, says new Mayor Edwin M. Lee, that if around $300 million to $400 million in cuts to employee pension and health care costs are not achieved, the city could face bankruptcy as soon as five years from now. Lee said that a $300 million to $400 million target for cuts is “probably not far off” from what needs to be done. “We are not at bankruptcy yet. But it has to be out there in the five- or 10-year range of situations that we could lend ourselves to,” Lee said.
One day after the Federal Transit Administration announced it would give the BART extension to San Jose $130 million as a down payment on $900 million in aid from Washington, political reality set in. The Republican-controlled House Appropriations Committee now recommends slashing funds to new rail lines by 22 percent -- cuts that could slow the flow of money for BART and 27 other projects across the country.
After a two-month lull because of a national paperwork scandal, foreclosures in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties in January returned to levels that have prevailed since 2008, indicating the crisis will continue this year but also putting more low-priced homes on the market. Last month's increase in foreclosures may be followed by bigger increases in the next few months, according to some real estate professionals.
Damage to the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta is so extensive that billions of dollars in restoration efforts may not save smelt and salmon from extinction, according to the first draft of a long-range plan to manage the West Coast's most important estuary. The bleak outlook, contained in a 52-page study released Monday night, could have major ramifications for California's drinking water, environmental policy and fish.
Eighteen years ago, Bill Clinton was in his first term as president, Barry Bonds was packing for his first spring training camp with the San Francisco Giants, and transit users were promised that someday they could use a single card to board any bus or train in the Bay Area. For riders in Santa Clara County, someday arrives Wednesday. That's when the Valley Transportation Authority begins selling Clipper cards to riders on its bus and light-rail system, the last major transit line in the region to join the program.
Professional dog walkers in San Francisco may soon need a permit to take their four-legged clients to city parks. The suggestion, unleashed Tuesday by Supervisor Scott Wiener, comes as federal authorities are looking to significantly expand restrictions on dogs on Golden Gate National Recreation Area property, which city officials fear could dramatically increase the number of pooches visiting San Francisco's public parks.
A divided BART Board of Directors is expected to start negotiating today with General Manager Dorothy Dugger for her likely exit as head of the transit system. "I've been asked if I had second thoughts, and my answer is no," said BART board member John McPartland, one of five directors who voted last week in closed session to ask Dugger to resign.
In November 2009, a prominent Philadelphia lawyer suing Chevron Corp. over oil-field pollution in Ecuador had some advice for his colleagues on the case: Now might be the time to settle. Joseph Kohn, in a letter to two Ecuadoran members of the legal team, said he thought the company possibly could be persuaded to settle the long-running lawsuit for between $700 million and $1.2 billion.
Oakland City Attorney John Russo has told friends and other city officials that he is considering stepping down, possibly as early as April, The Bay Citizen has learned. Russo’s resignation would be another destabilizing force for the administration of Mayor Jean Quan, who earlier this month persuaded police Chief Anthony Batts to stay in Oakland after he voiced deep misgivings about the city’s political leadership.
Apple's new subscription service for apps - which gives it a 30 percent cut on sales - met with resistance Tuesday, as some content providers for the iPhone and iPad said they would push back against the new policy. Rhapsody, a subscription-based music service based in Seattle, issued a statement saying it was working with other service providers to craft a "legal and business response" to the changes.