- State Auditor calls San Jose pension estimates 'unsupported' (SJ Mercury News)
The California State Auditor on Tuesday reported San Jose "likely overstated" that its future pension costs could reach $650 million by 2015, a figure the audit called "unsupported" and which the mayor cited early last year in building the case for a ballot measure to reduce retirement benefits. A bipartisan legislative committee commissioned the audit at the height of San Jose's Measure B pension reform campaign. City voters have since overwhelmingly approved the June measure to reduce pensions for new hires and make current employees pay more for their pensions or switch to a reduced plan for their remaining years.
- Chevron disaster plan didn't avert fire (SF Chronicle)
Chevron engineers drafted a detailed plan aimed at averting a hypothetical disaster nearly identical to the real-life fireball that erupted at the Richmond refinery's crude-oil processing unit, The Chronicle has learned. Now investigators want to know why that 2009 plan - which by law must outline steps to address identified dangers - didn't prevent the Aug. 6 pipeline rupture and hydrocarbon vapor cloud that ignited at Crude Unit No. 4, inflicting damage that will take months to repair and sending thousands of residents to emergency rooms.
- Democratic lawmakers move to oppose rewriting California environmental law (Sacramento Bee)
In the middle of an end-of-session bid to overhaul the California Environmental Quality Act, 33 Democratic lawmakers urged legislative leaders in a letter released Wednesday to oppose any significant rewriting of the law... The letter's release follows a business group's airing Monday of proposed changes to the law, California's signature environmental protection. In a proposal resembling draft legislation circulating at the Capitol, the Silicon Valley Leadership Group and other business interests are calling to exempt from CEQA projects that comply with a city general plan or other planning document for which an environmental review already has been done.
- Bay Area public officials break bank with unused sick time (Bay Area News Group)
By taking advantage of one of public employment's most lucrative and little-known perks, more than 370 Bay Area government workers who retired last year took home final paychecks that topped $50,000 apiece, and often considerably higher. Six of them received payments of more than $200,000, including a city finance director who walked away with more than $354,000. How'd they do it? By amassing hundreds -- and in a few instances, thousands -- of unused hours of vacation, sick, comp and personal time over the years, and then cashing it in on their way out the door at what is almost always the highest pay rate of their careers.
A new poll of San Francisco voters found that nearly two-thirds of the respondents think embattled Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi should be removed from office. In the poll of 500 registered voters in San Francisco, those favoring Mirkarimi's removal outnumbered those opposed by a margin of nearly 2 to 1. When asked, "Do you think Sheriff Mirkarimi should be removed from office, or not?" 61 percent said yes, 31 percent said no and 8 percent weren't sure.
A former Richmond police officer who illegally purchased guns for underage security guards and another former cop who helped in trying to cover up the crime avoided prison time Tuesday as a sympathetic federal judge placed both on home detention. U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken agreed with defense attorneys that both Danny Harris, 34, and Raymond Thomas, 32, were already punished for their actions by losing their police officer jobs and the respect of co-workers and the community.
A crisis in education funding? You wouldn't know it in Berkeley's public schools. The 9,000-student district is in the midst of a building boom not seen in at least 10 years to the tune of about $85 million and funded by generous Berkeley property owners. Since the Loma Prieta earthquake spurred Berkeley voters to fund construction for creaky old schools 23 years ago, the district has collected a half-billion dollars in taxes for construction, said school district spokesman Mark Coplan.
A proposed Chick-fil-A fast food restaurant in Novato would require a public hearing to approve any architectural changes, but no other municipal approvals would be required, a city planner said Tuesday. The Atlanta-based chain, which came under fire last month over its president's remarks about gay marriage, paid $2.7 million for a site at 35 Rowland Way occupied by a Carl's Jr. restaurant. While the city's Design Review Commission must approve any proposed remodeling plans, other than getting a business license no other steps need to be taken, said Alan Lazure, the city's principal planner.