- Governor calls off budget talks with GOP (Sacramento Bee)
After weeks of turbulent negotiations, Gov. Jerry Brown announced Tuesday he has called off talks with legislative Republicans, muddying California's path toward a budget solution. The Democratic governor portrayed Republicans as obstructionist and said they refused to allow voters to decide whether the state should extend higher taxes on income, vehicles and sales. Republicans fired back, suggesting Brown and legislative Democrats were too beholden to labor unions and trial lawyers to reach a compromise they could support.
- Russo expected to be named Alameda city manager (Oakland Tribune)
Oakland City Attorney John Russo is the leading candidate to become the next city manager of Alameda, sources confirmed Tuesday. The Alameda City Council met in closed session Tuesday to review his application. But the council did not vote to offer him a job during the meeting, as a background check still must be completed. Russo declined to comment Tuesday.
- Batts staying, Oakland department launching new programs (Oakland Tribune)
Reiterating that he is not leaving Oakland, police Chief Anthony Batts said the next few months will be extremely busy as the department deals with further downsizing and the implementation of new programs designed to strengthen community relations. Though he said city officials have not told him about any more officer layoffs, Batts said he has presented a budget scenario to Mayor Jean Quan calling for 15 percent in cuts to his department. He did not provide details, but said that attrition and the lack of planned recruit academics probably means more downsizing of the department.
Forgoing packaged foods such as canned soups and vegetables could dramatically lower levels of a hormone-disrupting chemical that has been linked to myriad health problems, including birth defects, autism and reproductive issues, according to a study released today. In the study, published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, five Bay Area families were asked to eliminate packaged foods from their diets and store food only in glass or stainless steel containers. After only three days, levels of the chemical bisphenol A in the subjects' urine dropped by more than 60 percent, researchers found.
San Francisco officials are bracing for about $7 million in cuts to federal funding for anti-poverty and community-development programs. While the exact cuts have yet to be determined, officials estimate that Community Development Block Grants will decrease from $22.2 million to about $15 million for San Francisco alone.
It's supposed to be downright hot around the North Bay for the next two days, with record high temperatures in the 80s expected in Santa Rosa and some other locations, the National Weather Service said Wednesday. The mercury was expected to reach 83 degrees in Santa Rosa on Wednesday, besting the previous record of 82, set in 2001, meteorologist Austin Cross said.
The Ross Valley Sanitary District has sued a South San Francisco construction company, claiming it bears responsibility for two massive sewage spills in December. Meanwhile, a former district board member is challenging allegations on which the lawsuit is based. The district on Thursday filed a lawsuit in San Francisco Superior Court against JMB Construction Inc. for breach of contract and negligence and seeking more than $650,000. The district's suit alleges that JMB damaged one of its old sewage lines while installing a new line and "placed, and/or failed to remove and/or allowed others to place" construction debris into one or both of the lines.
The sun, the wind and other sources of renewable power would supply one-third of California's electricity by the end of 2020 under a bill that finally cleared the Legislature on Tuesday after years of false starts. The bill would give California one of the nation's most aggressive policies for increasing the use of renewable power at a time when comprehensive federal energy legislation has been stalled in Washington. State Sen. Joe Simitian, who wrote the bill, cast it as a way of boosting California's clean-energy industry, which has continued to grow in recent years despite the recession.
The San Jose City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved a new ordinance that requires people on city trails to keep their dogs on leashes no longer than 6 feet -- 14 feet shorter than is allowed now. The new law also requires dog owners to walk, jog or bicycle to the right of the trail with their pets. First-time violators would receive a warning, second-time violators could be issued a $100 citation, and a third violation within three years could result in a $200 fine.
Jason Giambi, the former New York Yankees and Oakland Athletics slugger, testified today that he got undetectable steroids and other banned drugs from Barry Bonds’ weight trainer. Giambi, now a first baseman for the Colorado Rockies, was the first of three baseball players who testified at Bonds’ perjury trial. All said that for a time, trainer Greg Anderson was their connection for performance-enhancing substances.
San Francisco homeowners have until Thursday to request a temporary property tax reduction for 2011-12 by filling out a one-page form and returning it to the county assessor's office. Under Proposition 8, California property owners can get a temporary tax reduction if the market value of their home or other property has fallen below the assessed value.
Scientists have discovered an oak tree in the Presidio with the tree-killing disease known as sudden oak death, only the second time the fast-spreading pathogen has been found in San Francisco. The coast live oak tree on the southeastern edge of the national park was believed to have been infected by an ornamental plant in the garden of one of several nearby homes, said Matteo Garbelotto, the head of UC Berkeley's Forest Pathology and Mycology Laboratory. It is a troubling find, he said, because it means the microbe escaped and infected a wild tree despite an intensive nationwide effort to control the disease in nurseries.
A plan designed to spur more diversity in the Bay Area’s whitest county received a chilly reception from a panel of elected officials in San Rafael Tuesday evening, even as most of them agreed action was necessary to avoid additional federal scrutiny. The draft report, which must be adopted by May under the terms of an agreement signed with in December between Marin and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, came after the federal agency determined the affluent county had “failed to comply” with the 1964 Civil Rights Act and two other anti-discrimination statutes.
The group of local politicians in charge of Caltrain unanimously approves every item that comes before it, seldom debating or asking questions even as the rail line faces a historic financial crisis that soon could lead those same leaders to shutter half its stations. For an astonishing three years, the Caltrain board has nodded along in unity to approve 200 straight items, including key decisions to cut service, raise fares, increase salaries and change policy, according to a Mercury News review of meeting records. Board members typically were silent before most of the votes, which all were based on recommendations from SamTrans executives who manage the rail line's day-to-day operations. Their final vote count since the last disagreement: 1,591 yes, 0 no.