- Gas-line spikings are illegal, feds say (SF Chronicle)
Spiking an urban natural-gas transmission pipeline beyond its legal limit - as Pacific Gas and Electric Co. has acknowledged it did twice on the San Bruno line that later exploded - violates federal regulations and requires an operator to inspect for damage that could cause a rupture, federal regulators say.
- How Republican budget cuts would affect California (LA Times)
University of California students would take a nearly $55-million hit from reductions in Pell grants. A $20-million check promised for bringing a rail line closer to the L.A. airport would be taken back. Head Start cuts would eliminate about 14,000 slots for low-income children in California. Those are among the possible effects on California in the budget-cutting bill approved Saturday by the House's new Republican majority — legislation that would cut about $1.5 billion in federal money going to California, according to one estimate.
- Santa Clara moving to protect redevelopment money for Niners stadium (San Jose Mercury News)
Fearful that it could lose up to $40 million in redevelopment funds already promised for a new 49ers football stadium, the Santa Clara City Council plans on Tuesday to send a message to Gov. Jerry Brown: Don't take away our stadium money. City leaders are doing whatever they can to remind the governor that the 68,500-seat, $937 million stadium planned next to the Great America theme park has been a long-standing project that involves redevelopment funds, and should not be cut under Brown's proposal to do away with redevelopment agencies.
Former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger hailed pension cuts last year as a major reform after Democrats and state worker unions agreed to concessions that ended a record-long budget stalemate. But Republican lawmakers are clamoring for more.
Muni chief Nathaniel Ford is a finalist for the job running the airport authority in Washington, D.C. Ford did not return a call seeking comment today. But Tom Nolan, chairman of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, said today that Ford has spoken to him in recent days about the D.C. job.
...Budget problems, combined with policies and programs like the No Child Left Behind Act focused on improving overall educational performance in public schools, have put gifted programs in the expendable category. Local school districts, with permission from the Legislature, have been systematically taking money from the programs to cover budget shortfalls. School officials say they have no choice — but exceptionally talented pupils like Teela are paying the price.
Everybody knows this year's Bay to Breakers will be historic. The question is whether the race will be history after this 100th running. Race organizers say there is no plan to make the centennial run on May 15 the last Bay to Breakers, but some simple facts remain: There is no title sponsor for this year's race after global financial group ING declined last year to renew its five-year sponsorship.
More than a decade ago, the San Francisco Public Library undertook a monumental, multimillion-dollar effort to renovate or reconstruct nearly every branch library in the city. The plan was to bring two dozen branches up to building and disability-access standards within 10 years, as well as transform them into 21st century libraries with more community meeting spaces and digital resources. The project took longer than expected - and cost more as well - but the Branch Library Improvement Program is coming to fruition. Over the next seven months, library workers and their partners at the Department of Public Works will open seven branches, beginning with the Park Branch on Saturday.
On Sunday, a day after the 69th anniversary of the executive order incarcerating Japanese-Americans, Rep. Mike Honda called on Americans to end the blaming of immigrants and called for an official U.S. apology for the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. Honda, D-San Jose, spoke to about 200 people gathered for the "Day of Remembrance" that solemnly commemorated federal Executive Order 9066, issued Feb. 19, 1942. It authorized the imprisonment of 120,000 Japanese and Japanese-Americans during World War II in internment camps. Sounding like the high-school teacher he once was, Honda tied together events from American history. Years of scapegoating foreigners for economic woes, he said, led in 1882 to the Chinese Exclusion Act. "1882 was the culmination of things that happened before," he said.
Two Chinese-American lawmakers held dueling news conferences on the same morning last week, one proposing a ban on the consumption of shark fins — the other condemning the proposed ban as an “attack” on Chinese cultural cuisine. But shark fins are just one item on the Chinese menu that has come under attack: Just last month, a proposed limit on live invasive frogs and turtles for human consumption brought environmentalists and Asian lawmakers head-to-head.
The newest university to open its doors in San Francisco has no official curriculum, no accredited course work, no grades and no paid teachers. In an age of escalating college costs, however, the Free University of San Francisco — which resides in the basement of Viracocha, a store in the Mission District — has one very large thing going for it: no tuition fees.
Community activists and City Council members on a neighborhood bus tour denounced the scourge of urban blight, attacking banks and commercial property owners as negligent landlords and pushing for urgent reforms. "The banks have been using Oakland as a dumping ground," said Shirley Burnell, a West Oakland resident and volunteer at the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment, or ACE, which organized a two-hour bus tour Thursday to see the damage up close. "The banks are responsible for creating this blight, so they need to be responsible for cleaning it up."
Mount Tamalpais is one of the healthiest spots in the state for avian species, according to a 15-year study conducted by the Point Reyes Bird Observatory Conservation Science. The Marin Municipal Water District — the steward of much of the land on Mt. Tam — has contracted with the observatory to survey bird species since 1996. During that period, most bird populations have changed little and some have even increased numbers, in stark contrast to declines in other parts of the state, researchers say.