- San Jose mayor lays out stark choices in his state-of-the-city speech (San Jose Mercury News)
San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed laid out a stark choice in his State of the City speech Thursday night: Either the city’s employees accept significant pay and benefit cuts to curb their runaway pension costs or the already-lean city work force will be pared dangerously thin…With San Jose facing a second year of mass layoffs if employee unions fail to make concessions, even council members who have enjoyed strong union support didn’t dispute Reed’s basic premise.
- California House Democrats blast GOP spending cuts (SF Chronicle)
Bay Area Democrats who directed billions of stimulus dollars to California before their powers were dashed in November’s election lashed out Thursday at spending cuts being proposed by House Republicans across an array of domestic programs. The San Francisco Presidio Trust, in particular, is near and dear to former House Speaker, and now minority leader, Nancy Pelosi. Two GOP newcomers, Reps. Tom Reed of New York and Tom Graves of Georgia, pushed through an amendment to a spending bill that zeroed out $15 million for the trust, which Pelosi established to maintain the former military base that is a national park in the heart of her city.
- Black ice, road closures due to North Coast storm (Santa Rosa Press Democrat)
Black ice and slippery conditions were reported on roads around the North Coast as the commute hour got under way early Friday, while Lake County residents continued to face closed roads and no direct exit south to Napa County. Crashes on Mark West Springs and Porter Creek roads near Santa Rosa provided evidence of icy pavement at upper elevations, while reports of black ice at Highway 116 and Lakeville Road outside Petaluma suggested motorists everywhere should beware.
- PG&E may ask to pass San Bruno cost to consumers (SF Chronicle)
PG&E Corp. on Thursday substantially raised its estimates for the cost of dealing with the fatal pipeline explosion in San Bruno and hinted that it may ask its customers to pick up part of the tab, which could reach $763 million by year’s end. PG&E, the parent company of Pacific Gas and Electric Co., reported Thursday that it expects to spend between $200 million and $300 million in 2011 on pipeline tests, record searches and other activities related to the blast – more than twice the company’s previous estimate.
- Police Commission to Vote on Taser Plan (Bay Citizen)
The San Francisco Police Department may be one step closer to getting Tasers. A recent spate of officer-involved shootings of mentally ill people has reignited the divisive debate over these controversial weapons, which have never been used by the department.
The police department and other supporters, including former Mayor Gavin Newsom and the former police chief George Gascón, have said that stun guns are a safe, widely used law enforcement tool. But critics say they increase the risk of death and are abused by the police.
- Oakland settle suits over failure to translate (SF Chronicle)
Oakland in 2001 became the first city in the nation to mandate the hiring of bilingual speakers and translate key public documents, a widely hailed action that was followed by others, including San Francisco. But years later, the city stopped enforcing its so-called equal access ordinance – which provided translation for Chinese- and Spanish-speaking residents. Now, the city has settled two lawsuits stemming from its failure to translate public documents and hire bilingual speakers, and officials must start nearly from scratch to provide those services.
- Millions at stake in IRS audit of Oakland medical marijuana dispensary (Sacramento Bee)
Harborside Health Center proclaims itself the world’s largest marijuana dispensary. For certain, it is California’s most ambitious – a holistic care center with a naturopathic physician, acupuncturist, chiropractor, yoga instructors and therapists in “universal life force energy.” Its Oakland facility handles $22 million in annual medical marijuana transactions. Now Harborside is attracting scrutiny from the IRS. Since last year, the IRS has been auditing 2008 and 2009 federal tax returns for the Oakland location, one of two outlets Harborside operates for 70,000 medical marijuana users. The other facility is in San Jose.
- Bay Bridge detours to start in May (SF Chronicle)
…In late May, perhaps over Memorial Day weekend, Caltrans crews will move eastbound traffic coming off the bridge in Oakland to the south as the start of a complex effort to open both directions of the $6.3 billion new east span in 2013. Bridge officials say that this realignment shouldn’t be as dramatic, challenging or commute-changing as the infamous S-curve on the east span or the bobsled run that was created during the reconstruction of the San Francisco approach to the bridge. But they’re not taking any chances, launching a full-scale campaign to let drivers know that part of their familiar commute is changing – again.
- Quan Questions Need for Elected City Attorney (Bay Citizen)
Oakland should consider scrapping the position of elected city attorney if current officeholder John Russo resigns, Mayor Jean Quan said Thursday…Asked who she thought would be a suitable replacement should Russo resign, Quan told reporters: “We should look at whether we should have an elected city attorney at all.”
- Facebook adds civil union, domestic partnership to relationship statuses (CNN)
Facebook users now have two more ways to describe their romantic arrangements. In a gesture of inclusiveness aimed at the gay community, Facebook on Thursday added “In a civil union” and “In a domestic partnership” to its official list of relationship statuses.
- Contra Costa scandal could jeopardize drug cases (SF Chronicle)
As investigators scrutinized the relationship between a private investigator and a state drug narcotics agent arrested together for allegedly stealing and selling drugs, the Contra Costa County public defender began reviewing dozens of cases that could be jeopardized by the scandal.
- Employers must pay if they deny lunch breaks (SF Chronicle)
Employers in California who fail to give workers 30-minute meal breaks and 10-minute rest periods must pay them two hours’ wages as compensation, a state appeals court has ruled in a hotly contested workplace issue. Wednesday’s decision by the Second District Court of Appeal in Los Angeles involved suits by 32 United Parcel Service supervisorial employees who said they had been denied lunch breaks, rest periods and overtime for as long as a decade.
- New San Francisco park fees are on the horizon (SF Examiner)
Professional dog walkers and the organizers of exercise boot camps will probably have to pay a fee next year to help defray an expected $3.9 million budget deficit at the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department. But unlike last year, other park amenities seem to have dodged the budget axe. On Thursday, Recreation and Park commissioners unanimously approved what they called an “impressive” overall plan that appears likely to prevent layoffs, fee hikes and service reductions by once again generating more revenue.
- Obama meets with Silicon Valley tech elite (San Jose Mercury News)
Amid a struggling economy and high unemployment, President Barack Obama met Thursday night with a small, elite group of Silicon Valley business leaders to sound them out on his economic policies.The president’s plane touched down at San Francisco International Airport at 5:40 p.m., where he sprinted off the plane and was greeted by Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, Attorney General Kamala Harris, San Francisco Mayor Edwin Lee. He then posed for pictures with supporters before bounding onto a helicopter for a short flight to Cañada Community College in Redwood City.
- Mayoral Candidate Yee Lands Another Labor Endorsement (Bay Citizen)
A week after the local building trades union endorsed state Sen. Leland Yee for San Francisco mayor, Yee has secured the backing of a major national public employee union, his campaign confirmed. Locally, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, the largest public service employee union in the nation, does not carry the financial and political heft of the San Francisco Labor Council. But the endorsement does signal Yee’s strategy of courting labor behind the scenes, with eight months left until the election in November.