- Bay Area no longer among 25 most-polluted regions (SF Chronicle)
The San Francisco metropolitan area has dropped off the list of the top 25 most polluted regions in the nation, the American Lung Association said in a report Wednesday.
- PG&E employee who spied on activists had support of management, a CPUC probe finds (SJ Mercury News)
A probe by the California Public Utilities Commission has concluded that William Devereaux, a former PG&E employee who used a false identity to spy on activists opposed to SmartMeters, did not act alone but had support from senior managers. Devereaux resigned in November 2010 after admitting that he used the name “Ralph” to try to infiltrate an online group of consumers opposed to the utility’s new digital meters. At the time, PG&E characterized him as a rogue employee who acted alone.
- AC Transit approves bus rapid transit project in Oakland and San Leandro (Contra Costa Times)
The AC Transit board on Wednesday approved a $152 million bus rapid transit project in Oakland and San Leandro that will introduce the Bay Area to a new type of speedy, frequent service like a “railway on wheels.” Transit board members expect the project to increase bus ridership, cut pollution, and lure motorists out of their cars on a heavily used 9.5-mile-long route from downtown Oakland to the San Leandro BART station.
- Oakland moves May Day plans indoors, gives green light for Occupiers to march (Oakland Local)
Each May 1, Oakland has a history of hosting monumental, annual May Day protests that have been led by organizations such as Oakland Sin Fronteras and Mujeres Unidas y Activas. However, this year, Oakland’s May Day immigrant rights protest is primarily being planned by Occupy Oakland organizers. The Coalition for Dignity and Resistance/Decolonize Oakland is in charge of the march, which will begin at the Fruitvale BART station. Occupy Oakland also has planned a series of rallies at the plaza throughout the day. Meanwhile, the city cancelled its original reservation of Frank Ogawa Plaza on May 1.
- Tobacco industry gearing up to take down California cigarette tax initiative (Bay Area News Group)
In what is quickly turning into another high-stakes policy battle to be decided by California voters, tobacco giants Philip Morris and R.J. Reynolds are forking over tens of millions of dollars to defeat a new tobacco tax on the June ballot. Proposition 29, which would boost taxes by $1 a pack of cigarettes to $1.87, would raise about $735 million annually, most of which would go toward cancer research.
- Weak tax revenue to increase California budget deficit (Sacramento Bee)
With tax revenue slowing to a trickle as the end of April draws near, the state’s top fiscal analyst predicted late Wednesday that California would be “a few billion dollars” shy of Gov. Jerry Brown’s budget projections through June 2013.
- Calif. poll finds disconnect on school cuts, taxes (SF Chronicle)
Nearly 80 percent of Californians oppose $5 billion in so-called trigger cuts to state schools this fall, but only a slight majority of voters support the governor’s tax plan to stop it, according to a survey of 2,000 voters released Wednesday.
- Feds target Novato pot dispensaries; one closes (Marin Independent Journal)
In what appears to be the latest Marin chapter in a six-month federal crackdown on marijuana dispensaries, U.S. attorneys have taken steps to seize two north Novato properties that house the Green Door Wellness Education Center and the Green Tiger.
- Several sites in Santa Clara County to collect unused prescription drugs Saturday (SJ Mercury News)
eople in Santa Clara County who have expired, unused and unwanted prescription drugs can safely dispose of them Saturday at a handful of law enforcement agencies, no questions asked. In an effort to prevent prescription drug abuse, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration has organized another nationwide prescription drug “Take-Back” event on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
- Safeway could be a potential takeover target (Contra Costa Times)
Beset by tough competition and buffeted by the Great Recession, Safeway has struggled to find its footing, leading to speculation that it is ripe for a takeover by a bigger grocery chain or private equity firm. The grocery industry has undergone a transformation in recent years, as stores such as Walmart, Target, Trader Joe’s, Fresh & Easy and dollar stores stock more groceries. And unlike Safeway, those stores are nonunion, putting pressure on Safeway’s cost structure and profits. On Thursday, Safeway will report earnings for the first quarter of 2012.