- Oakland council vote on parcel-tax special election (SF Chronicle)
With a statewide election in June no longer a possibility, Oakland Mayor Jean Quan is pushing to have a mail-ballot-only election in July for a five-year, $80 parcel tax. Quan believes the city's financial situation is too serious to avoid new taxes, particularly with the city facing a $46 million deficit that has to be closed by June 30.
- FAA requires inspections of airliners as more cracks are found in 737s (NY Times)
The Federal Aviation Administration announced Monday that it would require extensive inspections of some older-model Boeing 737s for cracks in the planes' fragile skin that can be caused by pressurization and depressurization of the cabin over tens of thousands of takeoffs and landings. Three days earlier, undetected cracks widened into a 5-foot hole in the roof of a Southwest Airlines flight, forcing the plane, a 737-300, to make an emergency landing at a military base... In the Bay Area on Monday, Southwest canceled three flights to and from San Jose's airport, three flights leaving Oakland and one departure out of San Francisco's airport.
- Pipeline safety chief questions PG&E spiking (SF Chronicle)
The head of the U.S. pipeline safety agency on Monday questioned why Pacific Gas and Electric Co. had been intentionally raising pressure on its natural gas lines - twice on the San Bruno line that later exploded - and said her agency is reviewing a call for stronger controls on the practice. "We don't know why they are doing that - it is not a regulatory requirement," said Cynthia Quarterman, U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety agency administrator, referring to pressure increases the utility had asserted were called for under federal rules.
California would collect more of the taxes people owe when they buy items online from out-of-state companies under a bill that is moving through the state Legislature over the objections of Amazon.com and other Internet retailers. An Assembly committee on Monday heard testimony on the bill, which would make online sellers collect the sales tax if they have a sister company in California. Currently, online retailers with no California stores do not collect tax from California customers. Customers are supposed to pay the tax to the state, but many do not. An analysis of the bill says that costs California more than $1.1 billion a year.
San Francisco's biggest gang trial in years opened Monday with a federal prosecutor accusing seven men of terrorizing city neighborhoods with assaults, shakedowns and four 2008 murders. They are "a group that lives, breathes and celebrates violence," said Justice Department attorney Theryn Gibbons. From the mid-1990s onward, Gibbons said, local leaders of El Salvador-based Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13, have used fear and intimidation to control their Mission District turf, extort money from drug dealers and phony-document peddlers, and eliminate rivals.
The controversial admission fee at the Botanical Garden in Golden Gate Park has brought in far less revenue than originally projected, and more than half that money has been used to cover overhead costs. The findings were contained in a report by Harvey Rose, budget analyst for the Board of Supervisors. The analysis was released in advance of a supervisors Budget and Finance Committee hearing Wednesday, when two competing legislative proposals will be considered: one to kill the admission charge, the other to extend it indefinitely.
The FBI and the Richmond Police Department are investigating allegations that two officers recruited teens from the department's Explorer program into their private security firm, illegally armed them with guns and sent them to patrol the city's most dangerous housing complexes, The Chronicle has learned. After two of the Explorers complained about their jobs, they had a falling-out with their mentors. The officers then hired a private investigator who used attractive decoys to try to coax one of the young men into a drunken-driving arrest, according to the women who took part in the setup.
The reward offered for information leading to the arrests of two men who severely beat Santa Cruz resident Bryan Stow outside Dodger Stadium after a game against the Giants last week has grown to $50,000. Additional support for the 42-year-old father of two and paramedic is coming from other San Francisco Bay Area sports teams and Los Angeles Dodgers fans who are sickened about what happened in the stadium parking lot after the season opener between the rival teams March 31.
Muni lost an estimated $19 million in revenue last year to fare evaders — the same amount it missed out on in 2009 when it vowed to crack down on such boarding scofflaws. A 2009 study found that 9.5 percent of Muni passengers travelled without paying. A 2010 follow-up revealed that the rate of fare evasion had dropped to 8.6 percent. But due to changes in Muni’s fare structure, the transit thieves still sucked $19 million from the agency. Muni currently faces a $21.2 million budget deficit.
Marin law enforcement agencies issued a warning Monday to motorists considering talking on handheld cell phones or text-messaging: hang up or face fines into the hundreds of dollars. Joining the Marin agencies are California Highway Patrol officers and more than 225 local police departments across the state that are increasing patrols, targeting drivers using cell phones and ticketing all those caught in the act. The monthlong campaign started Monday and is part of the state's first Distracted Driving Awareness Month.
...Several hundred Bay Area union workers and supporters gathered in Frank Ogawa Plaza in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. and in solidarity with embattled unions in Wisconsin. Organized by the Alameda Labor Council, AFL-CIO, a local "union of unions," the event was peppered with protest signs referring to recent high-profile unions' struggles across the United States as well as populist fighting in countries such as Egypt and Libya. The chant of the day, repeated by almost every speaker, was "We are one."
As a basketball aficionado, Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer understands the significance of getting voted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. But when the announcement came Monday, she had trouble celebrating while still feeling the sting of getting bounced from the Final Four by upstart Texas A&M at Conseco Fieldhouse... VanDerveer, 57, joined former Warriors star and general manager Chris Mullin as the Bay Area entrants for the Class of 2011.
Last week, game wardens killed a mountain lion in a Redwood City backyard. In August, another lion was shot in downtown Berkeley, just blocks from Alice Waters' famous Chez Panisse restaurant. Yet despite such high-profile incidents, a permanent ban on mountain lion hunting 21 years ago and steady growth in California's human population, dangerous encounters between mountain lions and people in California are not on the increase. Actually, they are falling dramatically.