PUC slammed

Oct 29, 2013

A legislative report says the state Public Utilities Commission fell down on the job when it came to emphasizing safety in its regulatory duties. The report stems from the aftermath of the San Bruno pipeline explosion.


From the Mercury-News' George Avalos: "The report, issued by a state senate subcommittee chaired by Sen. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, was presented during a hearing that focused on renewed concerns over gas pipeline safety following fresh disclosures of poor record keeping on a section of pipeline running through San Carlos. Poor record keeping by the utility was cited by the National Transportation Safety Board as a factor in the 2010 pipeline explosion in San Bruno that killed eight people and destroyed 38 homes."


"PUC leadership has not figured out how to make safety a priority," Hill said in the report. "The PUC is simply not organized for success. For whatever reason, the PUC appears to be a year behind where it should be in its safety transformation."


"After the hearing, Hill reiterated that the PUC has still failed to improve its commitment to public safety three years after the San Bruno explosion."


Years after the tests were given, a jury says firefighters who took the examinations were right -- the tests discriminated against older workers.


From the Chronicle's Jaxon Van Derbeken: "A San Francisco jury awarded 15 firefighters a total of $3.7 million Monday after agreeing that the Fire Department had discriminated against them based on their age when they were judged to have failed a promotional exam for lieutenant five years ago."


"The firefighters - three of whom have retired - accused the city of arbitrarily altering dozens of test scores to the 2008 test and shredding scoring documents before firefighters could file a legal challenge. They challenged the exam process as skewed against firefighters who were over 40."


"The jury agreed, voting 9-3 in favor of the plaintiffs. A unanimous verdict is not required in a civil case."


Some downtown LA neighborhoods have a major garbage problem  -- in the streets.


From the LAT's Esmeralda Bermudez: "The tiniest refuse — candy wrappers, grocery bags, fliers — spreads across gutters like confetti. Chairs, rugs and other larger pieces block the alleys and sidewalks in a smelly obstacle course that sometimes reaches 10 feet high."


"Saturated with overcrowded apartments and tenants who pack their belongings and move with unusual frequency, the low-income area is notorious among trash collectors because of how tough it is to keep clean."


"It's like weeds," said Jose "Pepe" Garcia, superintendent with the Bureau of Sanitation. "You clear up one alley one day, and the next week — sometimes the next day — it's back to how it was."


The Western Climate Initiative didn't appear to be all that effective, but a new agreement was signed among several of the same parties to fight global warming. 


From the LAT's Anthony York: "Gov. Jerry Brown signed a new pact Monday to formally align California's clean energy policies with those of Oregon, Washington state and British Columbia."


"The agreement commits all four governments to work toward ways to put a price on carbon pollution, require the use of lower-carbon gasoline and set goals for reducing greenhouse gases across the region."


"The nonbinding blueprint also sets new targets for electric vehicles — aiming for 10% of all new cars and trucks in the region to be emission-free by 2016 — and calls for the construction of a bullet-train system from Canada to California."


Mum's the word -- for now -- on the number of signups via Covered California, the state's health insurance marketplace for the Affordable Care Act.


From the Mercury-News' Tracy Seipel: "Peter Lee, the head of the state's new health insurance exchange, said Monday that he will not reveal how many Californians have enrolled in health plans until mid-November."


"But once the figures are posted, Covered California's executive director told this newspaper's editorial board in a wide-ranging interview, the enrollment numbers will be among the most detailed in the country. He said they will be broken down by city and region, the age of the enrollees and which kind of plans they have selected."


"The lack of transparency of the state and federally run health exchanges has been one of the biggest criticisms of a key part of the new federal health care law, officially called the Affordable Care Act but commonly known as "Obamacare." In addition to the near-meltdown of the federal website used by 36 states, the failure of states that run their own exchanges to release enrollment figures since the new marketplaces debuted on Oct. 1 has given plenty of fodder to the health law's critics -- particularly Republicans who would like to kill the law in its infancy."


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