Friday, January 13, 2012

Friday Must Read: Oakland to Lay Off 200 Employees; PG&E Diverted $100 Million in Safety Funds for Profits

By Robert Gammon
Fri, Jan 13, 2012 at 6:58 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. As expected, the City of Oakland plans to lay off about two hundred employees because of the state Supreme Court ruling that upheld Governor Jerry decision to kill redevelopment in California, the Chron and Trib report. However, because of union seniority and contract rules, the city actually plans to send out about 1,500 lay off notices in total. The large number of notices will give the city the flexibility to decide which departments to eliminate and who should be laid off, city officials said. The only departments that will be exempted from layoffs are police and fire. City Administrator Deanna Santana also hopes to renegotiate some public-employee contracts in order to reduce the number of layoffs.

2. PG&E took more than $100 million in ratepayer funds that were supposed to be used for pipeline safety and operations and instead used them for profits and executive bonuses, the Chron reports, citing two audits of the troubled utility. Meanwhile, the California Public Utilities Commission, which has been heavily criticized by federal regulators for failing to properly oversee PG&E’s practices, approved a scathing report on the utility that concluded that it had violated numerous state and federal safety laws over the years in the run-up to the deadly San Bruno disaster, the Chron reports. The report sets the stage for huge fines against PG&E. The report concluded that PG&E has long had a corporate culture that placed profits over safety.

3. The University of California has decided to ban smoking at all of its campuses, including outdoor areas, in an attempt to limit the effects of second-hand smoke and prevent young people from becoming smokers, the Chron and Trib report. Under the new policy, there will be no outdoor smoking areas on any of the UC system campuses.

4. BART is going full speed ahead with its plans to spend about $1 billion on 260 new rail cars this spring, the Chron reports. The transit agency has the oldest fleet in the nation. Over time, BART plans to spend a total of $3 billion to replace its fleet of 669 rail cars. But don’t expect to see the shiny new cars any time soon; the first rail cars are not scheduled to be delivered until 2016.

5. And the Oakland A’s planned moved to San Jose is now “on the front burner” of Major League Baseball’s priorities, baseball Commissioner Bud Selig said yesterday, according the Mercury News. Baseball’s blue-ribbon panel, which has been studying ballpark proposals in San Jose and Oakland, delivered a comprehensive report to the commissioner this week. But Selig said Major League Baseball will not approve the A’s move to San Jose unless the San Francisco Giants allow it. The Giants own the territorial rights to the South Bay, which prohibit any other team from moving there.

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