- BART board delays vote on late-night service trial (SF Chronicle)
BART directors decided Thursday to put off consideration of a late-night service trial until, well, later. The board had been scheduled to vote on whether to proceed with a six-month test of running trains an hour later into the wee hours of Saturday morning and delay the start of regular Saturday service until 7 a.m. to allow time for maintenance. But a federally required civil rights study found that the service change would be problematic for minorities and low-income passengers, many of whom depend on BART to get to work on Saturday mornings.
- Oakland budget crisis reaching boiling point (Oakland Tribune)
What was already the biggest budget crisis in Oakland history, in terms of a projected $58 million deficit, heated up this week as the City Council put off public discussion of any fiscal details with just over a week left to reach an agreement before the next fiscal year. Mayor Jean Quan released three budget scenarios in April, detailing what she called a "worst-case" plan that closes the deficit entirely by service cuts, as well as what she hoped the city could do to reduce those cuts with a new parcel tax and contributions from city employee unions. She came under fire from some councilmembers, including Ignacio De La Fuente (Glenview-Fruitvale), who said the multiple options didn't show decisive leadership or provide the council the line-item budget detail they've used in the past to make their decisions.
- FTC may launch antitrust probe of Google (San Jose Mercury News)
The U.S. Federal Trade Commission reportedly is set to launch a broad antitrust investigation of Google (GOOG) that could mark the start of a lengthy legal process, potentially ensnaring the company in the same kind of federal confrontation that dogged Microsoft in the '90s and ultimately sapped its corporate power. At issue is whether Google has used its dominant standing in search to improperly promote its products at the expense of its competitors. The investigation could represent a significant problem for one of Silicon Valley's most prominent companies, if it results in an antitrust charge.
The San Jose Unified School District should pledge to install automatic fire alarms and sprinklers in all remodels of its schools and offices, the Santa Clara County civil grand jury recommends. In a report that looked into July's devastating fire at Trace Elementary School in San Jose, the grand jury concluded that the district maintained an inadequate fire alarm system and procedures. The Trace classroom pod did not have automatic alarms or sprinklers. And the private alarm-monitoring company sent an email to district officials, rather than calling them, when detectors sensed a fire at Trace. The delay meant the fire burned at least 23 minutes before firefighters -- alerted by neighbors who smelled smoke -- arrived. By then, the building was engulfed in flames. It was destroyed, a loss of $15 million.
After consistently opposing a public vote on taxes, Republicans insisted Thursday that they are willing to allow voters to weigh in on taxes but accused Gov. Jerry Brown, Democrats and their public employee labor allies of blocking a budget deal because of their opposition to pension rollbacks. At the same time, they maintained their opposition to a so-called bridge tax that Brown has said is essential to a deal. The governor has said that without a continuation of the current tax levels through the fall, schools and public safety will face devastating cuts.
San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón said Thursday he intends to refile felony hate crime charges that a judge dismissed against two men accused of attacking and robbing a transgender woman. Gascón said San Francisco Superior Court Judge Bruce Chan's decision to order the two defendants to stand trial for civil rights, assault and robbery charges did not go far enough.
...After winning five elimination games this postseason, the Bears finally lost one. “We’re proud to be one of the eight teams in the College World Series,” Cal coach David Esquer said. “We’ll never forget this.” They won’t, but for a proud team that had laughed off deficits all season, it was a bitter way to be sent home.
A judge on Thursday indefinitely blocked Caltrans from beginning roadwork on the first of three safety projects in Niles Canyon. Alameda County Superior Court Judge Frank Roesch, in issuing a preliminary injunction, said that Caltrans had failed to notify the public upon approving the project. He also ruled that the nonprofit Alameda Creek Alliance may proceed with a lawsuit charging that Caltrans approved the roadwork without performing adequate environmental studies...Caltrans declined to comment on the ruling, which is certain to push back construction by at least a year, Miller said.
A federal grand jury is hearing testimony against four former police officers charged as part of a layered and evolving Contra Costa County police corruption scandal, defense attorneys said Thursday...Several people have testified, and others have exercised their right to remain silent since the grand jury convened several weeks ago, Cardoza said. He and other defense attorneys said they suspect that more law enforcement officers will face criminal charges as part of the grand jury's inquiry.
Caltrain and California's high-speed rail planners on Thursday inched closer to funding a safety and scheduling upgrade needed before the two agencies can transform the local rail line. The $16 million grant announced from the federal Department of Transportation, matched with $4 million from Caltrain, will help fund the planning for a $251 million system required before electric rail service can begin on the 52-mile corridor between San Francisco and San Jose. It's part of the more-than-$6 billion four-track project on the corridor, with both commuter and bullet trains running on a pair of tracks.
Federal prosecutors said Thursday that they haven't decided whether they will retry Barry Bonds on three perjury charges for allegedly lying to a grand jury about whether he knowingly used performance-enhancing drugs. A federal jury convicted the former Giants ballplayer on April 13 of obstruction of justice for testifying evasively to the grand jury in 2003 about drug injections. But the panel deadlocked on three perjury charges...
Two new parking lots will open Friday south of Terminal B at the San Jose airport, hopefully easing a situation that has baffled and angered motorists for three years. The two lots will put 1,516 new spaces within an easy, ground-level stroll to Terminal B. No longer will people need to drive into the seven-story rental garage, find no public parking open and then have to navigate their way out and look elsewhere.
A Berkeley city union is giving up cost of living increases and agreeing to pension reform in a move it says will ease the perception that government workers are greedy...The 500 clerical and maintenance employees agreed to give up cost of living increases through 2015 and start contributing to their pensions, a move which will save the city about $4 million over two years, said City Manager Phil Kamlarz. Police and fire fighters are not affected by either the change in cost of living increases or pension reforms. The city is currently trying to balance a budget with a $12 million shortfall.
After three years of enduring plummeting property values, tens of thousands of Santa Clara County homeowners will see their property tax bills begin to creep up again this fall, the first signal that some of the county's most distressed real estate markets are clawing back from the bottom. Still, the glimmer of a rebound is masked by the number of residential and commercial properties assessed below their purchase price, which increased by 5 percent to 124,148. That means 27 percent of all single-family homes and almost half of all condominiums in the county are now "underwater." Still, county Assessor Larry Stone is partially restoring the assessed value of 45,773 properties that had dropped in recent years and fully restoring the values of 8,000 more.
The Golden Gate Bridge District is set to embark on a $4 million engineering study designed to make its proposed suicide deterrent system “shovel-ready,” but there is still no funding lined up to complete the $50 million project. On Thursday, a district subcommittee approved a contact for design studies of the system of nets to lie 20 feet below the famous span. Spokeswoman Mary Currie said the study should be finished in 18 to 20 months and will complete the design process for the system first approved in 2008. It will be funded through a $5 million grant.