- San Jose unveils details of ugly budget scenario (San Jose Mercury News)
The fallout from San Jose's $115.2 million budget hole came into sharper focus Monday when City Manager Debra Figone proposed a 2011-12 budget that slashes staff to its lowest level in 25 years. Figone's budget would slash police and firefighter services, library and community center hours, extend or add new park fees and significantly cut back on park rangers and employees who enforce city codes.
- Sacramento wins – Kings to stay (Sacramento Bee)
The Maloof family's first call Monday went to NBA Commissioner David Stern. Then they phoned Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson. The message was simple: They'll keep the Kings in Sacramento, work to mend fences in the community and do their part to secure a plan for a badly needed sports arena... But in many respects, the hard part's just beginning. After winning a remarkable victory to keep the team from moving to Anaheim, Sacramento faces a non-negotiable deadline. If there's no financing plan in place by next March, the Maloofs and the NBA agree the team will be free to go.
- Santa Clara County budget woes hit hard (San Jose Mercury News)
Santa Clara County's top administrator is calling for hundreds of layoffs and a dramatic downsizing of social services and public safety programs to balance a budget pummeled by the recession and a plunge in property values. On Monday, County Executive Jeff Smith released his $4 billion recommended budget for the coming fiscal year, a plan to offset the county's current $219.6 million shortfall. Budget-balancing is required by law and, absent new revenue sources, shrinking the social safety net becomes the county government's last resort -- a set of choices that pit programs for the homebound elderly against those serving abused children and the mentally ill.
Newly hired state employees in six unions would have to pay more into the system, work longer and will get less out of pensions than previous employees, under a series of new contracts that the state Senate ratified Monday. The legislation narrowly passed when two Republicans joined 25 Democrats in approving the memos of understanding, which required a two-thirds vote. The bill now moves to the Assembly, where Democrats will also need two Republicans to ratify the contracts.
Seven months after Cal announced the elimination of five teams to save $4 million annually, the school's 27-sport intercollegiate program is intact again with the reinstatement Monday of men's gymnastics. Supporters of gymnastics raised $2.5 million dollars, enough that Chancellor Robert Birgeneau decided to bring the program back on a non-scholarship basis. The university told gymnastics that additional private fundraising can go toward re-establishing scholarships.
Debbie Raphael, who spearheaded San Francisco's efforts to reduce the use of hazardous chemicals, was appointed Monday to head the state agency that monitors toxics substances in California and is in the process of developing its own regulations to limit the use of dangerous chemicals. Gov. Jerry Brown's appointment is expected to send a strong message to environmental advocates and the chemical industry, because the Department of Toxic Substances Control is currently developing regulations intended to ensure consumer products contain chemicals that are safe for human use and the environment. Those regulations were supposed to take effect on Jan. 1, but were delayed after Democratic lawmakers, environmentalists and scientists accused the state of bowing to pressure from the chemical industry and diluting the new rules' strength.
Pacific Gas & Electric said Monday it will replace 1,600 SmartMeters due to a "rare defect" that causes the wireless meters to run fast and inflate customers' electric bills. It's the first time PG&E has acknowledged experiencing any kind of technical problems with the controversial meters, which have drawn consumer complaints for inaccuracy and negative health effects. The 1,600 defective meters, which are manufactured by the Swiss company Landis+Gyr, comprise less than 0.1 percent of the nearly 2.1 million Landis+Gyr meters installed in Northern California to date. PG&E began calling customers who have the defective meters Monday and will offer full refunds to customers who received inaccurate bills. The utility said the average refund is $40 per customer.
A federal appeals court panel ruled Monday that gun show promoters have failed to show that a ban on firearms at the Alameda County Fairgrounds violates their right to keep and bear arms. Rather than dismissing the promoters' 12-year-old lawsuit, however, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco gave the plaintiffs another chance to produce evidence that the ban unreasonably restricts law-abiding citizens' ability to obtain guns for self-defense.
A deadly fungus that infects frogs, toads, salamanders and newts in California's High Sierra is a major cause of a population decline that is now hitting amphibians throughout the world, a team of San Francisco State University biologists has found... It is now apparent from international surveys of animal life that something of a mass extinction is striking amphibians everywhere: About 40 percent of all species are in decline, the surveys report, while nearly 500 species are listed as "critically endangered."
Passengers on the Bay Area's busiest transit systems and at San Francisco International Airport may notice more police officers as the agencies take precautions against potential terrorist responses to the killing of Osama bin Laden. But neither air travelers nor transit riders should encounter any new security procedures, officials said.
Despite the deep cuts to all levels of education, thousands of San Francisco eighth-grade students are still being promised a spot at San Francisco State University upon graduation.Because S.F. State gives admission priority to qualified students from six Bay Area counties, the university and the San Francisco Unified School District say they will keep their promise to nearly 4,000 students each year.
Employees of the San Francisco park department and a well-connected lobbyist worked together to help an out-of-town vendor win the contract to run the Stow Lake food and boat concession, a controversial deal that has critics fuming over potential changes at the historic Golden Gate Park facility. Private e-mails made public as part of a lawsuit over that concession agreement reveal tactics the lobbyist and staffers used to help woo city officials, stack public meetings with supporters and manipulate media coverage.
The sedation medicine that kept Bryan Stow in a medically-induced coma since getting viciously attacked outside Dodgers Stadium on March 31 has been stopped, though the Santa Cruz father of two remains in critical condition with a life-threatening brain injury at a Los Angeles hospital. The upside for Stow's family and friends is that there haven't been any brain seizures since the medicine was halted Friday, according to officials with Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center. Previous attempts in the past few weeks to take Stow off the sedation medicine were hampered because he would immediately suffer a seizure after the reduction in medication, which doctors said could further traumatize the brain injury.
The Hearst Corporation is considering a paywall for sfgate.com, the online portal of the San Francisco Chronicle, as part of a broad, new digital strategy for the paper, according to Chronicle staffers who have been briefed on the company’s plans...While many specifics of the plan — including the monthly subscription fee and exact mix of paywall and embargoed stories — could not be confirmed, newsroom employees said that access to sfgate.com stories for nonsubscribers would be sharply curtailed. They said the paper would likely establish a “hard” paywall, rather than a metered plan that lets readers click on a certain number of articles before cutting off access. The New York Times introduced a metered paywall for its website this month.