Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Wednesday Must Reads: Caltrans Failed to Properly Test Bridge Bolts; Report Says State Regulators Are Not Focused on Safety

by Robert Gammon
Wed, Apr 17, 2013 at 7:03 AM

News stories that East Bay progressives and environmentalists shouldn’t miss:

1. Caltrans failed to properly test the giant bolts that snapped on the new Bay Bridge and ignored concerns voiced by its own engineers about the bolts five years ago, SFGate reports. If Caltrans had conducted the tests, it might have discovered that the bolts were defective. More than thirty of the big bolts broke earlier this year, but it’s too late to replace them because the bridge’s roadbed has already been installed. The bolts are considered integral in helping the new bridge withstand a major earthquake, and Caltrans has yet to decide on a plan to fix the problem.

The San Bruno blast killed eight people.
  • The San Bruno blast killed eight people.
2. A report commissioned in the wake of the 2010 deadly PG&E blast in San Bruno found that public utilities regulators are still not focused on safety, SFGate reports. The California Public Utilities Commission had previously acknowledged that safety was not its top priority and had promised to reform. But the new report, commissioned by the CPUC, found that is has not.

3. A conservative group has sued to overturn California’s cap-and-trade system, arguing that the program is actually a giant tax and thus required a two-thirds vote of approval in the legislature, the SacBee$ reports. The state’s cap-and-trade system, the first of its kind in the nation, is designed to lessen greenhouse-gas emissions.

4. Governor Jerry Brown said he doesn’t think California’s primary environmental law — the California Environmental Quality Act — will be reformed this year because his agenda is too full, the SacBee$ reports. However, Democratic Senate President Darrell Steinberg said he still intends to push CEQA reform through the legislature.

5. The leadership board for CalPERS, the state’s public-employee pension program, approved an accounting change yesterday that likely will incur huge costs for cities and counties in the next few years, the SacBee$ reports. The change, which is designed to stabilize CalPERS’s long-term finances, will force cities and counties to pay far more to the retirement system than they had planned.

6. A package of gun control legislation, including a requirement that ammunition buyers undergo a background check, moved forward in the state Senate, the LA Times$ reports. The group of bills would tighten gun control restrictions in a state that already has some of the toughest in the nation.

7. And Oakland police arrested five teenagers on suspicion of murdering a San Jose paramedic in the Oakland hills earlier this month, the Trib reports. The teens allegedly shot Quinn Boyer at point-blank range.

$ = News stories that may require a paid subscription to read.

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