- California voters back Brown on tax ballot (SF Chronicle)
Californians support Gov. Jerry Brown's proposal for a special election on whether to extend and increase taxes to close the state's deficit, but likely voters are closely divided over whether they would approve those taxes, according to a Public Policy Institute of California poll. Opposition to the taxes could increase pressure on the governor to forgo his election plan and pass the package with only support of the Legislature, as Democratic leaders at the Capitol and public employee unions have said they preferred.
- San Francisco's Mayor Unveils Budget Plan (Bay Citizen)
San Francisco Mayor Edwin Lee unveiled a budget proposal on Wednesday that would trim social services and city administrative costs while avoiding any layoffs to the Police and Fire Departments. Buoyed in recent weeks by an unexpected $47 million bump in tax revenues and a new budgeting process, Lee was able to put forward a spending plan without any severe cuts.
- Garrido sentences cap notorious Jaycee Dugard case (Contra Costa Times)
Phillip and Nancy Garrido are expected to be sentenced to virtual life terms in prison Thursday morning, capping a whirlwind of a case that captured hearts and imaginations worldwide after Jaycee Dugard surfaced and revealed she spent two decades as the prisoner of a twisted sexual bondage and captivity scheme outside Antioch. Phillip Garrido, 60, will receive a sentence of 431 years to life in prison, while Nancy Garrido, 55, will be sentenced to 36 years to life in prison, all in accordance with their guilty pleas last month in a courtroom in El Dorado County, which encompasses the South Lake Tahoe neighborhood where she was kidnapped in 1991.
The San Francisco Giants posted their "It Gets Better" video on YouTube and the team website Wednesday, becoming the first professional sports team to join the online campaign against gay bullying and homophobia. Five players appear in the 58-second video: pitchers Matt Cain, Barry Zito and Sergio Romo; centerfielder Andres Torres; and batting coach Hensley "Bam Bam" Meulens.
In its second major records-related glitch since the Sept. 9 San Bruno disaster, PG&E has told state regulators it cannot meet the June 20 deadline for producing documents detailing welding defects in its natural-gas pipes over the past 55 years. Bad welds have been a key concern of the California Public Utilities Commission since welding flaws were discovered riddling the segment of pipe that blew up in San Bruno, killing eight people and destroying 38 homes. Nonetheless, PG&E told the agency in a filing late Tuesday that it can't provide records of weak welds for all 5,766 miles of gas transmission lines until Dec. 31, 2012, noting that it "seriously underestimated the magnitude of the task."
Highway 17 between Summit Road and Lexington Reservoir is a twisty, fast-paced, white-knuckler of a drive -- and one of the most dangerous in the state, especially when it rains. But starting next week, weather permitting, work could begin to rebuild ancient drains over a three-mile stretch from the Summit to south of Bear Creek Road -- some of which have not been touched since Franklin Roosevelt's first term in the White House. Taller, more protective guardrails will be erected. And new pavement will be installed that will drain water off the four-lane highway much more quickly.
...Heavy rain and hail hit areas of the Sacramento Valley in the early afternoon, and a funnel cloud was confirmed above Davis. As the afternoon progressed, tornado warnings were issued first for the Natomas and Rio Linda areas, then for portions of Sutter, Yuba, Butte, Placer and Nevada counties. The National Weather Service reported shortly before 6 p.m. that spotters and law enforcement officials had confirmed a sighting of a tornado touching down along Highway 99 near Lomo Crossing north of Yuba City.
...The late-season downpour hitting Northern California is threatening to devastate this year’s grape crop, making it potentially the third weather event in the last four years to wreak havoc on vineyards...Rainfall in June, which forecasters predict could set a new record, is expected to lower the amount of grapes that vineyards produce, potentially costing Sonoma County growers tens of millions of dollars in lost revenue at a time the industry continues to suffer economically.
Facing a $2 million deficit and the prospect of deep budget cuts this year, officials in Mountain View are hoping a $30 million windfall the city is receiving from Google Inc. will alleviate some of the financial pain. But first, the city needs to decide how, and when, to use the money. The Internet giant is paying the city an upfront fee to lease 9.4 acres of vacant land for 52 years. Google plans to build offices on the property, which sits next to Google's headquarters and adjacent to another vacant parcel Google is planning to develop...But like a lottery winner faced with unexpected cash, the money has forced the city council to confront differing views on long-term fiscal responsibility.
The suspect in the brutal beating of San Francisco Giants fan Bryan Stow has taken two polygraph tests in the last two days, and a polygraph expert for the defense team hinted Wednesday night that he has passed. Giovanni Ramirez, 31, was arrested May 22 following an intensive investigation into the beating outside Dodger Stadium.
With its open roads and pleasant suburbs, Contra Costa County might seem like a paradise for bicycle riders. In fact, the county’s bike commuters, of which there are few, are among the most likely to get into an accident in the Bay Area. From 2005 through 2009, 23 cyclists died in Contra Costa County. It's tied with Santa Clara County for the most cyclist deaths, but the death rate in Contra Costa County is higher.
The fight over Mavericks has begun to resemble a remake of "Kramer vs. Kramer," with Jeff Clark and his ex-wife, Katherine, in the starring roles. Instead of a child, they are battling for custody of a world-renowned big-wave surfing contest. On Wednesday night, the San Mateo County Harbor Commission dismissed an application to run the competition by Katherine Kelly Clark and her group, Mavericks Family LLC, after it emerged that the group had accidentally applied under a different name, Mavericks Community LLC, which was not registered as a corporation in the state of California. Clark said the slip-up was an honest mistake and that the organization is actually registered in Delaware.
Security software and a computer owner's diligence led to the recovery Tuesday night of a stolen laptop computer and the arrest of the man who had it, police said... (An) Apple MacBook and some other items were taken during a March 21 burglary at the Mosswood District apartment of Joshua Kaufman, 35, a programmer for ExactTarget...When he discovered his laptop had been stolen, Kaufman activated the security software program called Hidden he had installed. The basic version of the program sells for $15 online. It uses GPS to locate stolen devices and the computer's built-in camera can take pictures of anyone using it, as well as capturing screen shots of users' activity.