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Around the state
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• PG&E fined $16.8M for failing to check gas pipes: SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — California regulators upheld a $16.8 million fine against Pacific Gas & Electric for the utility’s failure to adequately check for gas leaks in its pipelines as required by state law.

The company acknowledged it did not check for leaks in pipelines servicing communities in the eastern San Francisco Bay area, Fresno and Yolo Counties.

PG&E appealed the $16.8 million fine by the California Public Utilities Commission as excessive, saying it self-reported the violations.

The utility’s inspection failures were unearthed after the Sept. 9, 2010 blast on a PG&E transmission line in San Bruno, which killed eight people and destroyed 38 homes.

PG&E said in a statement on Thursday that it had increased its safety inspections and will continue self-reporting any violations that jeopardize public safety.

• DMV employee accused of stealing $106 from drivers: SANTA ANA  (AP) — Orange County prosecutors say a woman who worked at the Westminster office of the Department of Motor Vehicles faces a maximum sentence of 11 years in state prison if convicted of stealing $106 in cash payments from customers.

Spokeswoman Farrah Emami says 44-year-old Rosario Casas was arrested Thursday and has been charged with 12 felony counts for four instances of alleged theft.

Casas is accused of charging customers for services, collecting cash and then voiding the transactions to pocket the cash on four occasions between July 2010 and February 2011.

Casas’ supervisor became suspicious after a customer complained that he didn’t get change from her.

Casas is being held on $25,000 bail and is due for arraignment Monday.

• Mayor leaves meeting after ‘gang rape’ tax remark: LOS ANGELES (AP) — Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa briefly walked out of a meeting following a county supervisor’s remark that a transit sales tax the mayor championed was “gang rape.”

The Los Angeles Times reports  Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich made the comment at a transportation committee meeting Thursday, alluding to the initial campaign to pass the countywide Measure R.

The mayor was a champion of the half-cent sales tax for transportation projects approved by county voters in 2008, and he’s pushing to get it extended.

Anotonovich spokesman Tony Bell says the measure affects the whole county, so city officials should get input from all county authorities before proceeding.

Villaraigosa returned to the meeting a short while after leaving to vote to back the tax-extension legislation.

The committee backed it in a 3-2 vote.