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Bay Area briefs
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PG&E MEMO SAYS DOWNGRADING LEAKS COULD CUT COSTS: SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A Pacific Gas & Electric Co. memo from a few years before the deadly San Bruno pipeline explosion suggested that managers might want to consider downgrading leaks found on natural gas lines, instead of fixing them.

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that a March 2008 summary of possibly serious leaks in PG&E's distribution system suggests downgrades could save the company nearly $5 million.

PG&E spokesman Dave Eisenhauer says the utility did not intend for executives to automatically downgrade or disregard risks, just to observe trends. He says the memo was later suspended.

At the time, the company also had a bonus system that rewarded supervisors whose crews found fewer leaks and lowered repair costs. PG&E ended that program after company whistle-blowers complained and PG&E's board of directors found supervisors had been encouraged to ignore potential safety threats.

MAN SENTENCED IN SAN BRUNO PIPELINE AID SCAM: SAN BRUNO  (AP) — An Oakland man convicted of posing as a victim of the San Bruno pipeline explosion to receive free benefits has been sentenced to three years in prison.

Deonte Jerome Bennett, 27,  was immediately taken into custody after his sentencing hearing Friday.

Bennett pleaded no contest in May to felony perjury and identity theft. Authorities say he entered the San Bruno victim assistance center days after the Sept. 9, 2010 blast claiming to have lost his belongings in the fire.

Six other people have been convicted of improperly attempting to receive aid intended for blast victims.

The explosion killed eight people, injured dozens and destroyed 38 homes.

RISE IN BERKELEY POLICE AND FIREFIGHTER INJURIES: BERKELEY (AP) — Injuries to Berkeley first responders are spiking and the mayor is blaming poor safety training.

Police and firefighter on-the-job injuries are much higher than state and national averages.

Officials don't know why they are getting hurt more often, but Mayor Tom Bates says the figures show the city's training and safety program has failed.

Twenty-eight percent of Police Department employers have been hurt on the job in the first five months of the year.

The City Council has been warned that if the trend continues it would be more than double the 20 percent hurt in all of last year.

Twenty-two percent of firefighters reported injuries from January to May, which is up 16 percent from 2011.

PROTESTERS DISRUPT SF MUNI SERVICE: SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Protesters have disrupted San Francisco municipal transportation service on the one-year anniversary of an alleged fare evader's death in a police gun battle.

Investigators say 19-year-old Kenneth Harding accidentally shot himself while trying to fire at officers attempting to stop him on July 16, 2011. Harding was allegedly fleeing after failing to pay a Muni fare.

A handful of protesters blocked two Muni Metro lines for about 45 minutes on Monday morning before moving on. Muni brought in bus shuttles to replace the trains.

The protesters dispute police's version of the shooting and say they will try to shut down Muni service again during the day.

LABOR STRIKE HITS SAN FRANCISCO COURTHOUSES: SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Business has been disrupted at three courthouses in San Francisco after more than 200 courtroom clerks and other workers walked off the job for a one-day strike.

Members of Service Employees International Union Local 1021 staged the labor action Monday to pressure San Francisco Superior Court managers to provide internal information about the court's finances.

SEIU spokesman Steve Stallone says union negotiators want the information to show that worker concessions court administrators are seeking are unnecessary.

NAPA MOMS, BABIES RECAP PUBLIC BREASTFEEDING RIGHT: NAPA (AP) — Some Napa County mothers are doing what comes naturally outside the local Social Security office where a woman was asked to take her breastfeeding outside last week.

The Napa Valley Register reports that about two dozen moms and their children staged a nurse-in on Monday to remind government workers that California law makes it legal to breast feed inside federal buildings.

Cherissa Lowgren tells the Register that she saw a security officer told another breast-feeding mom who was nursing her baby inside the Social Security office last Tuesday to leave.

Social Security Administration spokesman Deogracias Santos called the woman's experience an unfortunate event and says the guard probably was unaware that mothers have the right to breastfeed where they want.