A.M. Splash: Governor Plans School Funding Reform; River Otter Surfaces in SF; Thieves Hit Recycling Bins; Retirees Can Sue Livermore Lab

  • Gov. Jerry Brown to revisit sweeping plan to alter school funding (Bay Area News Group)
    In what promises to be one of his most significant policy moves this year, Gov. Jerry Brown will pursue a sweeping overhaul of the way California schools are funded, changing the way money has been allocated for four decades. Although the administration hasn’t released specifics, Brown wants to simplify funding streams, giving more local control to school boards and more money to districts with low-income students and those who don’t speak English fluently. He also wants to wipe out dozens of rules that districts must now follow to receive billions of state dollars annually. Some of those mandates, such as a requirement to limit class size in exchange for additional money, were suspended because of Sacramento’s persistent budget problems but are set to resume by 2015.

  • S.F.’s first river otter in 50 years at Sutro Baths (SF Chronicle)
    Naturalists and wildlife aficionados are atwitter about the unexplained presence of a river otter at the ruins of Sutro Baths, the first of the furry mammals seen in San Francisco in at least a half century. The otter, dubbed Sutro Sam, has been hanging out in a large spring-fed pool along the rocky coast, munching on the many overgrown goldfish dumped into the pond by residents over the years.

  • Recycling bins are targets for thieves (SF Chronicle)
    Each week in San Francisco and in urban neighborhoods across the Bay Area, residents dutifully separate aluminium cans, glass bottles and plastic jugs from their garbage and roll their recycling bins to the curb on trash day. But before the garbage trucks even arrive, many bins are picked clean by people who take the bottles and cans to a recycling center – or a wholesale, black-market collector on the corner – and turn the trash into cash. The practice is illegal and inflates garbage-collection rates. The thieves often leave behind a mess on city sidewalks.

  • Together a Century, City and Oil Giant Hit a Rough Patch (NY Times)

    The Chevron refinery’s massive oil storage tanks sit on the hills overlooking this small, impoverished city in San Francisco’s East Bay. Painted earthen red to blend with the natural surroundings, the tanks cannot help dominating the city’s skyline, much the way the oil giant itself has long shaped Richmond’s identity, economy and politics. But Chevron’s grip on Richmond’s politics began to loosen a few years ago after left-wing anticorporate activists seized control of the City Council and mayor’s office. In an area of the country where high-tech companies tend to coexist peacefully with affluent municipalities, perhaps nowhere have locals and a giant corporation rubbed shoulders with such intensity as in Richmond.

  • Retirees can sue Livermore lab over health care (SF Chronicle)
    A state appeals court has revived a lawsuit by retired employees of the University of California’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory over UC’s decision in 2008 to switch their health insurance to a private plan that covered less and cost more. The four retirees presented evidence that the university had promised them lifetime health coverage and can try to prove that the shift to a lesser plan was a breach of contract, the First District Court of San Francisco ruled Monday. The court reversed an Alameda County judge’s decision to dismiss the suit.

  • CCSF trustee’s re-election certified (SF Chronicle)
    Chris Jackson, whose re-election to City College of San Francisco’s Board of Trustees in November was nearly invalidated because he failed to file his required campaign finance reports, is back in the game. The city’s Department of Elections certified Jackson’s victory after he filed three rounds of delinquent paperwork Dec. 13. The reports – due on July 31, Oct. 5 and Oct. 25 – were supposed to tell voters before the Nov. 5 election how much money Jackson raised, where it came from and how he spent it.

  • Foreign spouses, children to benefit from U.S. immigration policy change (Contra Costa Times)
    In the latest move to clear paths to legal residency for illegal immigrants, the Obama administration on Wednesday ruled that thousands of foreign spouses and children can stay with their U.S. citizen relatives while applying for green cards. The policy “reduces long periods of separation between U.S. citizens and their immediate relatives,” Alejandro Mayorkas, director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, said Wednesday in a conference call. The shift is a relief for married couples such as California winemakers Erika and Edgar Torres, who have delayed starting a family and lived in fear of forced separation because of immigration troubles.

  • Oakland nonprofit using 3D laser technology to preserve California missions (Associated Press)
    California’s centuries-old Spanish missions are getting cutting-edge 3D treatment. An Oakland-based nonprofit called CyArk is using 3D technology to scan the historic missions in an effort to preserve them, the Los Angeles Times reported Wednesday. The idea is to make a virtual 3D model of the structures so if they’re damaged in earthquakes or fires, for example, the model provides a precise outline down to the millimeter for easier reconstruction. CyArk is the brainchild of retired civil engineer Ben Kacyra, who helped develop a portable 3D laser scanner that can send out 50,000 beams a second.

  • San Jose: Police say burglary suspect was fatally shot by citizen trying to detain him (SJ Mercury News)
    An attempt by an armed citizen to snag a man believed responsible for multiple vehicle break-ins at a large apartment complex went awry Monday when the suspected thief was shot and killed, police said. According to information released Wednesday, police believe Luis Ricardo Hernandez, 26, fatally shot Christopher Soriano, 36, in the parking garage of the Sunny Breeze Apartments on Lewis Road during a confrontation around 9:40 a.m. Both men are San Jose residents, but police did not specify if Hernandez lived or worked at the apartment complex.

  • Safeway CEO Burd to retire in May (SF Chronicle)
    Safeway’s CEO Steve Burd will retire in May after more than 20 years with the grocer. The chain, which has stores across the country, says it will search for a successor both internally and externally. The 63-year-old Burd says he wants to spend more time with one of his signature pursuits at Safeway: health care. Safeway raised more than $2 billion for charities, including more than $200 million for cancer research under Burd’s leadership, according to the company.

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