Safety first

Dec 14, 2012

PG&E is not happy and heads have rolled: It's moving fast to take a look at hundreds of electrical items after finding out that they apparently weren't inspected for safety.


From the Chronicle's Jaxon Van Derbeken: "Pacific Gas and Electric Co. is rushing to check more than 1,500 pieces of underground electrical equipment in the Bay Area for possible safety hazards, after discovering that legally required inspections intended to head off disastrous accidents may not have been performed, The Chronicle has learned."


"PG&E has fired or suspended eight company employees and 11 contract workers who said they had inspected equipment but may have failed to do so, utility officials have told state regulators. The company suspects that some of the workers lied and says the checks supposedly performed by others are impossible to verify."


"The company issued a statement Thursday saying it expects its workers and contractors "to properly perform and document all inspections they are assigned."


Speaking of juice, the loquacious and irreverent John Burton, the head of the state Democratic Party, is turning 80 and is having a small fete to celebrate his octogenarian status.


From the LAT's Anthony York: "State Democratic Party Chairman John Burton is turning 80. And to celebrate, he and a couple of hundred friends will be partying at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco."


"For $1,000 per ticket, you can join in the fun. The price for a table ranges from $10,000 to $50,000."


"The event will raise money for the John Burton Foundation for Children Without Homes, which the former Senate leader established after leaving elected office to help California’s foster, former foster and homeless youth. Attire, per the invitation, is “Burton causal. No black tie allowed.”


The state's political watchdog, the Fair Political Practices Commission, says backers of petition signature drives must disclose their motives.


From the Union-Tribune's Mark Walker: "Meeting in San Diego, the watchdog panel decided to require groups spending more than $100,000 for a signature drive to state on their organization papers what they’re backing."


"The change comes after people trying to track ballot measures complained there was insufficient information to determine what groups were behind the efforts."


“Getting information out about who is circulating petitions is imperative,” said Commissioner Elizabeth Garrett before the requirement won unanimous approval."


The FPPC also has accused two brothers who served together as GOP lawmakers of laundering $40,000 in campaign funds, and an administrative law judge will hear the case.


From the LAT's Patrick McGreevy: "The charges focus on the 2008 election, in which both brothers won Assembly races. State law limited the amount Tom Berryhill could contribute directly to his brother's campaign to $3,600, but Bill Berryhill's campaign needed extra help in a tight race, according to the accusation written by commission staff."


"The contribution limits do not apply to money raised and spent by party central committees."


"Tom Berryhill's campaign allegedly used money from one of his fundraisers to donate $20,000 to the Stanislaus County Republican Central Committee and an equal sum to the San Joaquin County Republican Central Committee. Those two groups donated the same amounts to Bill Berryhill's campaign on the day they received the money."


A judge who said in court that a rape victim didn't put up a fight has been chastized by a judicial panel for his comments.


From the Register's Larry Welborn: "An Orange County judge was admonished by a state commission Thursday for making "outdated, biased and insensitive" remarks about rape victims who do not "put up a fight" during a 2008 sentencing hearing."


"Superior Court Judge Derek Johnson, a former prosecutor in the Orange County District Attorney's Office sex crimes unit, acknowledged in a statement to the California Commission on Judicial Performance that his comments were inappropriate, according to a seven-page report issued Thursday, and he issued an apology."


"He explained that he was frustrated with a prosecutor during an argument in 2008 over sentencing and was trying to make a distinction between the case before him and more aggravated cases cited by the prosecutor, according to the decision."


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