- Jerry Brown's budget proposals pass committees (SF Chronicle)
Less than six weeks after Gov. Jerry Brown unveiled his budget proposal, a nearly identical plan passed key committees in both houses of the Legislature on Friday. The plan to close what is now a $26.6 billion budget deficit includes deep cuts to the state's education, health and welfare programs and a proposal to place $14 billion in tax extensions and increases before voters in June.
- State bill would sack California high-speed rail board members (Bay Area News Group)
An influential state Democrat on Friday introduced a bill that would fire the current members of the board governing California's high-speed rail project and replace them with experts who don't have a financial stake in the undertaking. The legislation by state Sen. Alan Lowenthal, D-Long Beach, marks the first time a Democrat -- generally the $43 billion project's biggest supporters -- has introduced a measure undermining the officials planing the San Francisco-to-Anaheim rail line.
- PG&E seeks pipe documents from employees (San Jose Mercury News)
As part of its massive search for documents to verify it has set safe pressure levels for its natural gas lines, PG&E has sent letters to 42,000 current and former employees asking if they have any "design, construction, inspection, testing, maintenance or other records" related to the company's gas transmission pipes. In a Feb. 11 form letter, which was first obtained by KGO-TV, PG&E said it was seeking documents "held by people outside the company" at the direction of the California Public Utilities Commission.
- S.F. Sheriff Michael Hennessey says he'll retire (SF Chronicle)
Sheriff Michael Hennessey announced Friday that he will retire at the end of his term after 31 years on the job...Hennessey's announcement will open up a citywide elective office. Rumored potential candidates are Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi and Vicki Hennessy, the former director of San Francisco's Department of Emergency Management and a former chief deputy in the Sheriff's Department.
A group composed of union leaders, philanthropist Warren Hellman and an increasingly large coterie of city executives has been meeting every other week for months, trying to come up with a consensus plan to rein in the city's ballooning pension and health care costs. Many of the group's members had promised to come up with a plan as they campaigned last fall against Proposition B, a controversial ballot measure sponsored by city Public Defender Jeff Adachi that would have required city employees to contribute more toward their pension and benefit costs. Prop. B lost by a wide margin, and Adachi has been treated as a political pariah in many circles ever since.
Friday's Chronicle brought us the news that as many as 185 police officers may leave the force due to budget considerations. It turns out that was nothing. Try a loss of more than 500 officers. At issue is the department's Deferred Retirement Option Program. The plan, crafted by Police Officers Association President Gary Delagnes and approved by San Francisco voters, is designed to keep veteran officers on the force. Once they reach 25 years of service and are over 50 years old they can opt for DROP. Patrol officers get three years in which they are paid their full salary and a pension, which is placed into a special savings account. After three years they retire and get the chunk of pension money.
It happened nearly two decades ago, in the most personal and painful of moments. Jackie Speier, 17 weeks pregnant, was losing a baby she desperately wanted. She miscarried, with the fetus slipping from her uterus, and doctors told her the baby wouldn't survive.
Agonizingly, Speier and her physician husband terminated the pregnancy. Minutes before midnight Thursday, that unbearably emotional experience came pouring out in the most public way when the 60-year-old Democratic congresswoman from San Mateo spoke about her abortion to stunned colleagues on the floor of the House.
Cities throughout California are using redevelopment funds — intended to fight blight and promote economic development — as emergency ATMs to pay for core services, including police, fire and code enforcement, and sometimes the mayor's salary. This use of redevelopment money is clearly illegal in some cases, and legal or on the margins in others. Either way, officials in many cash-strapped cities say they have come to rely on redevelopment money to avoid making deep budget cuts.
In his 25th year of Grateful Dead marathons on KPFA, 94.1 FM, David Gans of Oakland hopes to raise $50,000 for the struggling Berkeley radio station. But more important, he hopes to bring joy to millions of Deadheads - a subculture that's bigger now than when lead guitarist Jerry Garcia was alive.