Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Tuesday Must Read: UC Regents Vote to Raise Retirement Age; Appeals Court Blocks Sale of State Buildings

By Robert Gammon
Tue, Dec 14, 2010 at 7:10 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. The UC Board of Regents voted yesterday to raise the retirement age of UC employees from 60 to 65 and to slash UC’s contribution to retiree health care, the Chron reports. The board also voted to raise the age of early retirement eligibility from 50 to 55. The moves were made to help the UC system close a huge $21 billion deficit in its retirement obligations. But the proposed changes must still be negotiated with public employee unions, who are already criticizing the plan as being unfair to workers in physically demanding jobs.

2. A California appellate court blocked the proposed sale of eleven state buildings, including one in Oakland, at least until January when Governor-elect Jerry Brown takes office, the Los Angeles Times reports. Opponents of the proposed $1.2 billion sale, brokered by Governor Schwarzenegger, say it represents an illegal giveaway of public funds, because the state will lose money on the deal over the long run since it will have to lease the buildings from private owners. Opponents also hope that Brown will scuttle the deal because as attorney general he refused to defend it in court.

3. BART’s popular EZ Rider card will no longer be valid at some BART stations this Wednesday as the agency transitions to the new Clipper card, the CoCo Times reports. Up to 50,000 riders have been using the EZ Rider cards. The new Clipper cards also are valid on AC Transit, Muni, and Golden Gate Transit, and will eventually work on all Bay Area transit systems.

4. NASA scientists say 2010 was the warmest year on record, as the world’s average temperature rose to 58.57 degrees Fahrenheit, breaking the previous mark of 58.32 degrees in 2005, California Watch reports. The higher temperatures also may be a significant sign of global warming, considering the cold snap in Europe this fall and lower solar irradiance this year.

5. California will become ground zero for electric cars under a plan unveiled yesterday in Los Angeles by an alliance of automakers, state regulators, and environmentalists, AP reports. The California Plug-In Electric Vehicle Collaborative plans to make it easier for consumers to purchase electric cars by helping them install charging stations in homes and upgrading ones in high-traffic public areas. The collaborative’s goal is to get one million plug-in vehicles on the road in the state by 2020.

6. The PG&E executive who was fired for infiltrating an anti-SmartMeters online group shared his findings widely with other utility employees, the Mercury News reports, citing PG&E records. The records show that the utility’s monitoring efforts of SmartMeters groups was more widespread than PG&E has acknowledged.

7. Alameda’s “Christmas Tree Lane,” a popular destination for holiday revelers, was hit by thieves over the weekend, the Alameda Journal reports. Crooks made off with some decorations from a stretch of Thompson Avenue in which property owners elaborately adorn their homes with Christmas ornaments.

8. California’s medical cannabis ID card program has been a bust because the cards cost too much to obtain, the CoCo Times reports. The cards, which cost more than $100 in Alameda County, were supposed to protect medical pot users from being hassled by police.

9. Sugary, caffeinated alcoholic drinks marketed to teens were still on store shelves yesterday even though a statewide ban has gone into effect, the Chron reports. The state ban makes it illegal to sell beverages such as Four Loko, Joose, Max, High Gravity, and Moonshot.

10. And in another example of why parents shouldn’t lose track of their kids this holiday season, an 8-year-old girl was molested in a San Leandro store while searching for her brother, the Chron reports. It was the second child molestation incident of a kid who got separated from adults in an East Bay store in recent weeks.

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