- Obama to expand national marine sanctuaries, permanently ban oil drilling, up Sonoma and Mendocino coasts (SJ Mercury News)
In a move that would permanently ban oil drilling along more than 50 miles of Northern California coast, the Obama administration is scheduled this morning to announce plans to expand two northern California marine sanctuaries, extending them up the rugged Sonoma and Mendocino Coast. The announcement, scheduled at an 11:15 am news conference in Washington D.C., with members of the Bay Area congressional delegation and officials from NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is expected to mark the largest expansion of national marine sanctuaries in California in 20 years -- since President George. H.W. Bush established the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary in 1992.
- Oakland keeps cash on overpaid tickets (SF Chronicle)
According to state law, cities are required to reimburse people who mistakenly pay their parking tickets twice. According to a new report from its auditor, Oakland has never taken the trouble to do so - or even known that such overpayments occurred. The result has been a stream of revenue that last year alone added up to $316,000.
- Decision coming on who will pay for PG&E pipeline upgrades (Oakland Tribune)
One thing is certain about PG&E's $2.2 billion pipeline improvement program: utility bills are headed higher for PG&E customers. What remains to be determined is just how high they will go. The state Public Utilities Commission may decide as early as Thursday how much of the cost PG&E's customers will bear for upgrades to a pipeline system in the wake of the lethal 2010 explosion in San Bruno that killed eight.
- Apple CEO Tim Cook runner-up for Time's Person of the Year (Los Angeles Times)
Time magazine announced Wednesday that President Obama has been anointed its "Person of the Year" for 2012. But there among the four runners-up was Apple CEO Tim Cook. The folks at Apple may not like to finish second to anyone, but coming in just behind the president is still pretty good. And Cook is in interesting company, as the other runners-up include the new president of Egypt, the Pakistani girl who was shot in the head for protesting, and the woman who was part of a team of scientists that isolated the Higgs boson particle.
- Gas prices next year could be 20 cents lower than in 2012 (SJ Mercury News)
Pump prices have dropped for 27 consecutive days and are expected to continue their decline over the next three months, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Over the course of the coming year, the agency predicts, average prices will be as much as 20 cents a gallon lower than they were in 2012.
- 'No surprises' in Mendocino County pot raid review (Santa Rosa Press Democrat)
Mendocino County Sheriff Tom Allman said Wednesday he has received the report on an internal investigation that stemmed from a marijuana raid on property owned by the family of a sheriff's captain. Allman declined to discuss the specifics of the report, saying he had not had sufficient time to review it, but promised to discuss it Friday. "There are no surprises," he said.
- Secret deal ends girlfriend-wife feud over painter Thomas Kinkade's estate (SJ Mercury News)
Anyone expecting a dramatic courtroom showdown between Thomas Kinkade's estranged wife and his live-in girlfriend over the late artist's multimillion dollar Monte Sereno estate will be sorely disappointed. After months of name-calling and finger-pointing, lawyers for Nanette Kinkade and Amy Pinto announced Wednesday they have reached a secret settlement. And despite Pinto's vow months ago to clear her name and explain how she was no gold-digger but rather Kinkade's soul mate, she has accepted a deal in return for her silence.
- Idling ambulances wearing out their stay (SF Chronicle)
Ambulances and the wail of sirens are commonplace near the California Pacific Medical Center campus in San Francisco's Pacific Heights, where there is plenty of goodwill for first-response crews. But some local shopkeepers and restaurateurs say the friendliness sometimes gets taxed when ambulances sit idling in loading zones and prevent delivery truck drivers from dropping off their loads, or at least make doing so more difficult.