Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Wednesday Must Read: Kamala Harris Asks Court to Reinstate Gay Marriage; More PG&E Missteps in San Bruno Disaster

By Robert Gammon
Wed, Mar 2, 2011 at 7:03 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. California Attorney General Kamala Harris asked a federal appeals courts to reinstate gay marriage in the state, arguing that Prop 8 is doomed in light of a recent Obama administration decision, the Chron reports. The Obama Justice Department announced last week that it would no longer defend a similar federal anti-gay-marriage law because it’s unconstitutional. Harris contends that federal courts will ultimately side with US Attorney General Eric Holder’s decision and so the federal appeals court reviewing Prop 8 should allow same-sex marriages to resume in California.

2. PG&E’s slow-footed response to the San Bruno pipeline disaster was riddled with errors, the Chron and Mercury News report. In addition, PG&E officials continue to defend their stance against automatic shut-off valves as federal hearings opened in Washington DC, even though such valves could have turned off gas in the ruptured pipeline within fifteen minutes. It took PG&E more than an hour and a half to manually turn off the gas in the line as workers scrambled to find the right tools and the gas-fueled inferno raged on, killing eight people and destroying a neighborhood.

3. New documents also reveal that the San Bruno line probably was welded together with leftover pipe when it was installed more than fifty years ago, the Chron reports. In addition, a PG&E employee misread the pipeline’s records in the late 1990s while entering data in the utility’s computer system and mistakenly identified the pipe as being seamless. As a result, PG&E never properly inspected or tested the pipe. Federal investigators believe the pipeline rupture began at a faulty weld that PG&E didn’t know existed.

4. Governor Jerry Brown indicated yesterday that police pension plans could be on the budget chopping block, the LA Times reports. Brown made his comments to a group of police chiefs. Republicans have pushed for reforms of public-employee pensions but some GOP leaders have contended that police and firefighter retirement plans should be exempted from cuts.

5. Water content in the Sierra snowpack is still above normal despite the lack of precipitation throughout much of January and February, the Chron and Mercury News report. Recent wet weather has helped push water content to 124 percent of normal for this time of year.

6. Ex-Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums has returned to Washington DC and joined a public relations firm run by his longtime friend J.C. Watts, a former Republican Congressman, the Chron reports.

7. And the San Leandro City Council is moving forward with a citywide law that would ban medical cannabis dispensaries, the Daily Review reports. San Leandro police are convinced that pot clubs will be crime magnets even though they do not attract crime in Oakland and Berkeley.

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