Thursday, January 31, 2019

Thursday’s Briefing: Sierra Snowpack Reaches Normal; Judge Finds PG&E in Violation of Probation

By Robert Gammon
Thu, Jan 31, 2019 at 10:27 AM

click to enlarge sierra_snowpack.jpg
Stories you shouldn’t miss for Jan. 31, 2019:

1. Thanks to January’s storms, the Sierra snowpack is expected to reach normal levels today — a positive sign that California will not endure a drought year in 2019, reports Peter Fimrite of the San Francisco Chronicle$. A month ago, the snowpack was just “67 percent of normal and last year at this time it was 30 percent of the long term average.” More storms are expected to hit Northern California this weekend.

2. Federal Judge William Alsup ruled that PG&E’s dismal safety record violated the terms of the company’s probation, stemming from its convictions for the deadly 2010 gas line explosion in San Bruno, the Bay Area News Group$ reports. The judge also “spent three hours excoriating the company for its role in the blazes that have ravaged Northern California over the past two years,” asking at one point, “Does a judge turn a blind eye and let PG&E continue what you’re doing, let you keep killing people?” Alsup is expected to mandate tough new safety protocols for the company.

3. Extreme cold killed at least eight people in the Midwest this week and crippled the region with record-setting freezing temperatures, The New York Times$ reports. Chicago hit minus 21 degrees with a wind chill of minus 41. The so-called polar vortex also closed schools and forced the cancelation of thousands of flights as it swept into the East Coast today, with the temperature in New York City plummeting to 2 degrees.

4. The ACLU and Berkeleyside sued the city of Berkeley over the city’s contention that a new police misconduct transparency law does not apply to records before Jan. 1, Berkeleyside reports. ACLU and Berkeleyside say the city is violating the new law, which made public certain police misconduct records in the possession of cities, regardless of the date.

5. The Alameda Planning Board greenlighted a new hotel to be built near the Park Street Bridge, reports Peter Hegarty of the East Bay Times$. The four-story Holiday Inn Express is to be located on Park Street at Clement Avenue, “the site of a former car dealership that now houses a business that sells electric scooters.”

6. The Alameda City Council is poised to select a developer to build a total of 291 houses, townhouses, and apartments on the former Alameda Naval Air Station in what is known as the West Midway Project, reports Peter Hegarty of the East Bay Times$. Four potential developers are vying for the project.

7. And three Walgreens locations in the Bay Area could lose their pharmacy licenses because they employed a fake pharmacist to dispense hundreds of thousands of prescriptions for more than a decade, reports Joseph Geha of the Bay Area News Group$.

$ = news stories that may require payment to read.

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