- PG&E rates to drop for heaviest utility users (SF Chronicle)
Homeowners who use large amounts of electricity will get a break on their bills, while those who conserve will pay a little more than before, under Pacific Gas and Electric Co. rate changes approved Thursday by state regulators. The changes, the first of which will take effect in June, were prompted in part by complaints from PG&E customers in California's broiling Central Valley, where electricity usage spikes during heat waves.
- Immigration program opt-out OKd by Assembly (SF Chronicle)
The California Assembly approved a bill Thursday to allow counties to opt out of a federal program to combat illegal immigration that opponents say rips families apart, leads to racial profiling and erodes trust between law enforcement and immigrants. Under the Secure Communities program, initiated by President Obama, the fingerprints of anyone booked into a county jail are automatically cross-checked against immigration databases. If a person is determined to be undocumented, local authorities hand them over to federal officials for possible deportation.
- Charges filed in San Jose councilman's drunken driving case (San Jose Mercury News)
San Jose City Councilman Ash Kalra was credited for quickly disclosing a drunken-driving arrest and publicly apologizing, but court papers made available Thursday suggested he was less forthcoming with the officer who pulled him over. Police reports indicated Kalra "refused" to tell officers his employer or business address, and gave no indication the California Highway Patrol, which hadn't publicly announced Kalra's May 7 arrest, was aware he was a public official. However, Kalra insisted Thursday that he had told the officers he was a San Jose elected official...Santa Clara County prosecutors formally charged Kalra this week with driving under the influence of alcohol and driving with a blood-alcohol level of 0.08 or more.
BART's board of directors voted unanimously Thursday to spend up to $141,000 on the purchase of 130 more Tasers to allow all of its police officers to have their own stun guns. The BART Police Department currently has 60 Tasers, and many officers aren't equipped with the stun guns.
Just a few years after killings in the Bay Area's biggest cities lurched upward, the state's homicide rate fell to a 44-year low in 2010, officials said, easing concern that a sour economy might translate into desperation and danger on the streets. Overall violent crime dropped as well, with the number of homicides, robberies, rapes and assaults down 6.4 percent from 2009, according to preliminary figures that the California Department of Justice collected from the state's biggest police agencies and released this week.
It could take several more days before Los Angeles police present evidence to prosecutors against the primary suspect in the March 31 beating of a Giants fan outside Dodger Stadium, Police Chief Charlie Beck said Thursday. "I have a very difficult case here," Beck said at a news conference, five days after officers arrested Giovanni Ramirez, 31, during a raid on an East Hollywood apartment. "It was seven weeks before we made that arrest, and we still have a lot to do. I can't jeopardize the case by giving out any more information."
Jubilant officials emerged from a hearing at Sacramento City Hall on Thursday and proclaimed the region is further along in its quest to build a new sports and entertainment arena than it ever has been before. But the region has seen other arena efforts take shape, only to implode. The sticking point once again will be financing – how to pay for a new facility and how that cost will be divvied up between taxpayers and private sources, such as the Sacramento Kings.
A Superior Court judge denied efforts to block the formal unveiling Sunday of a Jonestown memorial at Evergreen Cemetery that contains the name of the Rev. Jim Jones. Judge Robert McGuiness issued the decision Thursday afternoon, a day after he heard lengthy and sometimes emotional testimony by supporters of the monument, as well as opponents led by Jynona Norwood of the Guyana Tribute Foundation. Norwood asked the court to block the monument unveiling because one of the 918 names on the monument belongs to Jones, the Peoples Temple founder who orchestrated the deaths of more than 900 people, including 305 children, in November 1978 at Jonestown, Guyana.
The judge handling more than 70 lawsuits filed against PG&E over the deadly San Bruno blast pledged Thursday to fast-track the cases in order to reach a resolution swiftly. "This will be given first priority by the court," San Mateo County Superior Court Judge Steven Dylina said during the first meeting on resolving the suits. "I have a number of people who have suffered horrific loss." Lawsuits have stacked up since the Sept. 9 gas-line explosion and fire killed eight people and injured many more. The flames destroyed 38 homes and left 17 more uninhabitable. Without exception, the complaints accuse Pacific Gas & Electric of negligence that resulted in the blast.
When the last Apollo astronauts walked on the moon 40 years ago, they carried home a curious collection of lunar pebbles, rocks and soil. Now those volcanic samples of the ancient lunar crust reveal that the arid moon's interior holds far more water than scientists had believed...Research teams from three institutions, all affiliated with NASA's Lunar Science Institute at the Ames Research Center in Mountain View, reported Thursday they have found relatively copious quantities of water inside tiny glass fragments that erupted from lunar volcanoes long ago.
Soquel High School administrators late Wednesday suspended a handful of students they suspect were involved with a rash of racist graffiti on campus and who wore clothing consistent with the white supremacist movement. Santa Cruz City Schools Superintendent Gary Bloom said the students stood together wearing white shirts and bandannas at a recent photo shoot for the senior class picture. During the past several months school officials say they have found swastikas and other white supremacist graffiti on campus.
Whether Buster Posey can return to the Giants' active roster this season remains questionable at best. What's certain is this: The Giants will not downplay the significance of losing a catcher who became the National League's Rookie of the Year in 2010 while helping the franchise win its first World Series title since moving to San Francisco. Posey sustained a fractured fibula in his left leg and three torn ligaments in his left ankle from a collision at the plate with the Marlins' Scott Cousins in the 12th inning of Florida's 7-6 victory Wednesday night.
Creighton Wong had not ridden a bike, or even really run, well into his adult years. Wong, a 37-year-old Oakland native now living in Danville, was born with a congenital defect. His right leg ends mid-thigh and he is missing digits on both hands, making it hard to participate in such activities. But on June 5, he will swim 1.5 miles in the frigid San Francisco Bay, bike 18 miles and then run eight miles through the city as part of the 31st annual Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon.