Monday, January 24, 2011

Monday Must Read: GOP Says No New Taxes Without Pension Reform; Bad Weld Cited in Deadly PG&E Pipeline Blast

By Robert Gammon
Mon, Jan 24, 2011 at 7:04 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. A leading Republican in the state Senate says that Jerry Brown’s plan for a June tax measure is dead in the water unless the new governor makes deep cuts to public-employee pensions, the CoCo Times reports. For his part, Brown says that he plans to deal with spiraling pension costs separately from his proposed budget deal. But even some Democrats acknowledge that Brown’s tax plan may not make it onto the ballot, let alone win passage, unless the governor addresses the state’s pension problem. Brown’s own pollster found last year that 62 percent of Californians view public employee pensions as a very serious issue.

2. Federal investigators are pointing to a faulty weld in PG&E’s San Bruno pipeline as a possible cause of last year’s deadly blast, the Chron reports. Investigators say the weld was substandard at the time the pipeline was installed in 1956. Some experts also think that PG&E’s practice of spiking pressure in gas lines may have further weakened the weld. PG&E didn’t even know the weld existed. The Chron also reports that weak state and federal oversight and lax regulations allowed PG&E to avoid properly testing the San Bruno line.

3. The Republican brand will remain dead in California until the GOP backs away from polarizing conservative positions on social issues, Republican strategists agreed over the weekend at a UC Berkeley symposium, the Chron reports.

4. Despite the heavy precipitation so far this winter, California is not yet out of the drought, the Chron reports. Water officials say the La Nina weather pattern is still too unpredictable.

5. Researchers say porpoises have started to reappear in San Francisco Bay near Marin County, the Marin Independent Journal reports. Porpoises used to be plentiful in the bay but disappeared more than sixty years ago.

6. Oakland City Attorney John Russo has fired off a letter to city officials warning that Mayor Jean Quan’s informal legal adviser, Dan Siegel, should not give direction to city staff, the Chron reports. But Siegel says he has no intention of interfering with Russo’s role under the city charter.

7. An Oakland schools cop shot and killed a suspect after the man allegedly attacked another officer with a screwdriver, the Chron reports. The incident happened Saturday night near Joaquin Miller Community Center, where Skyline High School was holding a winter ball.

8. Fitness guru Jack LaLanne, who began his career in an Oakland gym, died Sunday at the age of 96.

9. And Facebook has raised $1 billion through Goldman Sachs, AP reports. The social networking giant has yet to announce what it plans to do with the money.

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