- California Legislature quickly passes state budget (SF Chronicle)
After months of fits and starts, the state Legislature approved a budget package Tuesday night to close what was once a $26.6 billion deficit - giving the state a spending plan before the start of the fiscal year and ensuring that lawmakers once again will receive their pay. With remarkably little debate, both houses of the Legislature passed the eight bills that made up the final pieces of the state budget plan.
- Emotions run high as Jerry Brown vetoes farmworker bill (Sacramento Bee)
Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed legislation tonight that would have let farmworkers unionize more easily, despite intense pressure from fellow Democrats and labor allies who considered Brown their best chance in years to pass the bill. The veto came just about one hour before midnight, when the legislation would have become law. The veto touched off an emotional scene outside Brown's office, where about a dozen lawmakers and 100 farmworkers and supporters called unsuccessfully for Brown to come out.
- Diesel fuel spills into Lake Merritt; fire crews work to mop up the mess (Oakland Tribune)
Firefighters used oil containment booms to soak up diesel fuel that came from a storm drain and pushed an oily sheen over several acres of Lake Merritt following Tuesday's unexpected rain, an Oakland Fire Department battalion chief said. Battalion Chief Darin White said the fuel ran into the lake from a storm drain at Harrison and Grand streets at the northwest part of the lake, near the Cathedral of Christ the Light Church. The origin of the fuel was not immediately known but Oakland firefighters, the city public works department, and the Department of Fish and Game worked to determine its source.
Muni’s board of directors approved a $233 million tunneling contract for its Central Subway project on Tuesday, a move seen as an essential step by the agency, but decried by its critics as too hasty. The seven-person board voted unanimously to award the tunnel-boring contract — the largest construction package of the agency’s $1.6 billion undertaking — to Barnard Impregilo Healy, a Montana-based contractor. The Central Subway, scheduled to open in 2019, will extend Muni’s underground Metro service from the Financial District to Chinatown.
With the certainty of deep cuts to the University of California and California State University in the new state budget - each by $650 million - comes another certainty: higher tuition to make up the difference. "Cuts of this magnitude inevitably will drive up tuition for public university students and their families," UC spokesman Steve Montiel said Tuesday, providing a grim forecast just weeks before an 8 percent tuition hike kicks in that will bring tuition at UC's nine undergraduate campuses to $11,124 - or $12,150 when mandatory campus fees are included.
An expert appointed by the state panel that investigated the San Bruno natural gas pipeline explosion has backed off his conclusion that a 2008 sewer construction project was the probable cause of the disaster, citing newly discovered details of the gas line's operating history. In the report that the blue-ribbon panel submitted this month to the California Public Utilities Commission, Robert Nickell determined that vibrations from the June 2008 sewer project - in which a crew used an air-powered bursting device to break apart old sewer pipe - had probably weakened the nearby Pacific Gas and Electric Co. gas transmission pipeline and led to its failure more than two years later.
The mother of Oscar Grant III will receive $1.3 million from BART in a settlement agreement that ends, in part, a federal civil rights lawsuit filed against the transit agency after one of its officers killed Grant, an attorney representing Grant's mother said Tuesday. The settlement between BART and Wanda Johnson follows a $1.5 million payment the transit agency made to Oscar Grant's 5-year-old daughter last year.
...More than any other time, summer highlights the disparity in both academic and enrichment opportunities for children, a have-vs.-have-not gap separating families by income, work status and school district. Palo Alto middle school students may choose Clarinet Choir, "The Science of Hollywood" or public speaking, all offered at district schools. In Los Altos, schools lease space to teachers offering everything from Decathlon Sports Camp to fashion design. But most San Jose schools are closed for the summer. "In the summer right now, the landscape is bare," said Tim Nguyen, who coordinates summer offerings for the East Side Union High School District, where only five of 11 campuses have limited classes, most funded by grants targeting particular students, such as those below grade level.
The East Side Union High School District has dragged its heels in putting its financial house in order, the Santa Clara County Civil Grand Jury found. In a concise report issued this month, the jury criticized the 25,000-student district for not completely complying with state recommendations to tighten fiscal controls, particularly those over construction contracts...Those issues had been highlighted in a January 2010 state audit that found East Side awarded multiple no-bid contracts, rehired ex-employees without requiring conflict-of-interest statements and lacked sufficient documentation to judge allegations of wrongdoing.
San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon today called on Congress to pass a federal ban on assault rifles as the city approaches the 18th anniversary of a mass shooting at a building in the Financial District. The shooting at 101 California St. on July 1, 1993, left eight people dead and six others injured. The shooter, a disgruntled former client at a law firm in the building, also killed himself after the shooting spree.
On Tuesday, in what should be the height of summer weather with the July 4th holiday around the corner, rain drenched Sonoma County and the North Bay Area, setting records in many cities, including San Francisco. The downpour sent day youthful campers scurrying indoors, canceled at least one outdoor concert, felled trees and caused a three-fold spike in the number of daily vehicle collisions. It also prompted some grape growers to ready treatments to prevent vine mildew.
Protests of a proposed fee hike for Ross Valley Sanitary District ratepayers were being counted Tuesday night to determine whether the rate increase will go forward. More than 150 people attended a public hearing at Kent Middle School in Kentfield to receive formal protests of the rate hike. The hearing was required by state law. Under Proposition 218, property owners controlling a majority of the district's 15,208 parcels had to submit a written protest with their signature by the end of Tuesday's meeting to block the increase. The board will vote on the rate hike July 20.
Google took its biggest leap yet onto Facebook's turf Tuesday, introducing its social networking service called the Google+ project -- which happens to look very much like Facebook. The service, which will initially be available only to a select group of Google users who will soon be able to invite others, will let people share and discuss status updates, photos and links.
Zynga, which dominates the fast-growing social gaming industry, hopes to raise as much as $2 billion in an initial public stock offering that would be one of the largest this year, according to multiple reports Tuesday. The IPO, the filing for which could happen as early as Wednesday, would value the San Francisco startup at $15 billion to $20 billion, according to reports in The Wall Street Journal and CNBC. That would make it easily the largest of the new crop of social networking companies that have gone public or filed plans to do so.
If you want to set off legal fireworks in the Bay Area, you're out of luck, unless you live in a handful of local cities. Just a dozen cities in the Bay Area and Santa Cruz County allow the sale and use of "safe and sane" fireworks -- state fire marshal-licensed fireworks that don't explode or leave the ground. Any fireworks not purchased at licensed fireworks vendors are considered illegal, and fireworks can't be bought in one of the 12 cities and set off someplace else. For most of the cities that allow fireworks, sales began Tuesday at noon, while a few cities — Gilroy, Cloverdale, Rohnert Park, and Petaluma -- start Friday.