- Democrats give Jerry Brown majority-vote budget (Sacramento Bee)
Facing a constitutional deadline and threat of pay forfeiture, legislative Democrats sent Gov. Jerry Brown a rare on-time budget Wednesday filled with spending cuts, higher fees and borrowing. While Republicans continue to reject Brown's tax proposals, the Democratic plan squeezes the governor from the other side of the aisle as he must now decide whether to veto a package from his own party.
- Board approves new middle school system (SF Chronicle)
San Francisco's school board has finalized a new system designed to give parents a better idea of which middle schools their children will attend. This week, the board voted on a compromise proposal that gives parents a choice of middle schools until 2017. For middle schools in high demand, the district will give priority to siblings, then students coming from the feeder elementary schools.
- State lawmakers approve online sales tax (San Jose Mercury News)
One of the more intriguing pieces of the last-minute budget approved by California legislators Wednesday is an online sales tax, a controversial and previously failed effort to tax purchases from online retailers like Amazon.com and Overstock.com. Its sponsors say the tax would bring in an estimated $200 million a year, a relative drop in the bucket but still a tantalizing chunk of change for a state whose finances are in utter turmoil. For consumers, it would mean they can't avoid sales tax by buying online.
In a long-anticipated move, the state Legislature on Wednesday abolished the state's redevelopment agencies, but with a catch: Agencies that agree to divert a certain amount of the property tax they collect to schools, fire protection districts and transit districts can continue to exist as agencies. For fiscal year 2011-12, which starts July 1, each of the state's 398 active agencies would have to pay its share of $1.7 billion -- and its part of $400 million beginning in the following fiscal year.
Soon after the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency concluded contentious contract talks with transit operators, its board asked Executive Director Nathaniel Ford to step down, which he will do at month’s end. “The board approached me about making a change, and while we both thought now was the right time, it was ultimately their decision,” Ford said Wednesday night. Ford had frequently been rumored to be a candidate for other transit posts, most recently in March, when he seemed about to depart for the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority. His apparent desire to leave irritated some agency insiders.
The San Jose City Council approved rate increases for water, sewer, garbage and storm drain services Tuesday night. The council voted unanimously to raise rates for sewer and storm drain service by 3 percent and municipal water by 5.9 percent. The council voted 9-1 to approve a 9 percent increase in Recycle Plus trash and recycling collection rates. Councilman Pierluigi Oliverio was opposed and Councilman Ash Kalra was absent.
A dispute that began after a passenger refused to pull up his sagging pants led to his arrest and removal from a plane at San Francisco International Airport on Wednesday, police said. Deshon Marman, 20, a University of New Mexico football player who was in the city to attend the funeral of a close friend, former Lincoln High School standout David Henderson, was being held at San Mateo County Jail on suspicion of trespassing, battery and resisting arrest.
In an emotional public hearing that contrasted different approaches to school reform, the Santa Clara County Board of Education on Wednesday heard heartfelt pleas for more high-achieving charter schools serving poor children, while local superintendents cautioned against moving too fast... (Several) spoke to support an application by Rocketship Education to open 20 charter elementary schools by 2017 near the worst-performing schools in Santa Clara County. It's an ambitious proposal that could make the charter operator the fourth-largest school district in the county. Palo Alto-based Rocketship aims to eliminate the achievement gap, the gulf between the highest-and lowest- achieving students.
A Santa Clara County civil grand jury on Wednesday called for a wholesale rethinking of fire departments and emergency responses, arguing that sending firefighters to what are now mostly medical calls is outdated and wasteful. A report by the watchdog panel found that 70 percent of fire department calls are medical emergencies, and just 4 percent are fire-related. But even so, firefighters respond as if they are heading to a fire, sending a crew of three or more on a truck or engine costing an average of $500,000 -- five times the cost of an ambulance. Typically only one of the three arriving firefighters has medical training, the report said.
(Wednesday), a parole board panel approved the release of a three-strikes inmate for the first time under a new law that allows inmates who are so ill they are incapacitated to be released to medical parole. Craig Lemke, a Lake County man serving a 68-year sentence since 2007, is also the first inmate to win a medical parole release, state corrections spokeswoman Terry Thornton said.
A parolee found hiding in a doghouse was arrested on suspicion of raping a woman who took a video of her alleged attacker with her cell phone, police said Wednesday. Dion McDaniel, 47, of Oakland allegedly forced his way inside the 28-year-old woman's home on the 900 block of Apgar Street and raped her June 7. The woman used her cell phone to record the man as he took electronic items from her and briefly left her home at about 9:40 a.m., said Officer Holly Joshi, a police spokeswoman. The man then returned and assaulted her, police said.
Barry Bonds' lawyers asked a federal judge Wednesday to overturn his obstruction-of-justice conviction for testifying evasively to a grand jury about drug injections, arguing that jurors used an out-of-context statement to find him guilty of something that wasn't even a crime. A federal jury deadlocked April 13 on three perjury charges against the former Giants ballplayer based on his 2003 grand jury testimony that he had never knowingly used performance-enhancing drugs or received injections from anyone but his physician.
Pandora Media soared in its debut Wednesday, but then glided back toward earth on a volatile first day of stock market trading for the Oakland-based Internet radio company. The online music company wound up with a nearly 9 percent gain Wednesday following its initial public offering. Pandora Media finished with a market value of $2.78 billion Wednesday. By day's end, Pandora was the 77th most valuable company in the Bay Area, out of 465 public companies. It was the 10th most valuable East Bay company, out of 85 public companies in that region.
...Gallo is one of many Bay Area women turning to acupuncture as a treatment for infertility. Acupuncture has become increasingly accepted by the medical establishment as a treatment to reduce pain and stress, and there have been multiple studies on its effects on infertility in the past decade. But even as many patients use acupuncture to successfully help them have children, scientists still are unsure how it works, or if it's effective.