AGENCY WEIGHS IN ON SAN JOSE PENSION FIGHT: SAN JOSE (AP) — A California agency that oversees government employee rights has issued four complaints against the city of San Jose over negotiations with its unions on a pension reform measure that voters approved in June.
The state's Public Employment Relations Board believes the city unions deserve a hearing before an administrative law judge after reviewing unfair-practice claims leveled by the labor groups. City officials must respond within 20 days.
The unions said city officials haven't negotiated fairly regarding pension reforms that were part of a voter-approved measure, the San Jose Mercury News reports.
San Jose's employee retirement costs have more than tripled and gobbled up funds for staff and services from police protection to libraries and road maintenance. The measure aims to curb benefits for current employees and have higher retirement ages and lower benefit formulas for new hires.
Mayor Chuck Reed, who sought the pension reforms, called the state agency's involvement irrelevant.
"The voters have already spoken," Reed said.
The unions also have filed lawsuits in Santa Clara County Superior Court. A hearing on a union request for an injunction is scheduled later this week, and a trial is set for June 17.
GOV. BROWN PLEASED NEW POPE IS A JESUIT: SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — California Gov. Jerry Brown, who trained as a Jesuit, said Wednesday that he is pleased to see a Jesuit elected pope.
The former seminarian was asked his opinion about the selection of Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio of Argentina after an event to promote solar power and wind energy.
"I'm glad he's a Jesuit," Brown told reporters during a question-and-answer session. "He is from Argentina, so that might give him a broader perspective to see the world through the Southern Hemisphere, but what the hell do I know? I thought Jesuits weren't allowed to consider higher office. At least they weren't in my day."
As a young man, Brown spent two years studying to become a priest at a Jesuit seminary in the San Francisco Bay Area, the Novitiate of the Sacred Heart in Los Gatos. After serving as governor from 1975 to 1983, he also studied Zen Buddhism at a Japanese monastery and later briefly worked alongside Mother Teresa in India.
WOMAN ARRESTED IN TODDLER ATTACK: SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A 24-year-old woman has been arrested after she allegedly kicked a 1-year-old girl in the chest at a children's playground in Golden Gate Park.
Authorities said Sabryna Bell walked over to the girl and her father about 4:30 p.m. Monday and kicked the girl for no apparent reason. The toddler fell to the ground. She suffered minor injuries and did not need to go to the hospital.
The San Francisco Chronicle reports police said Bell then walked over to a group of children and yelled that she was going to kill them. She ran away and was arrested a short time later.
DEVIL'S SLIDE TUNNELS TO OPEN THIS MONTH: PACIFICA (AP) — The first tunnels built in California in more than 50 years are slated to open March 25, allowing motorists to steer clear of an ocean cliff-hanging roadway dubbed Devil's Slide south of San Francisco.
Since Highway 1 opened in 1937 the area has been hit with eight landslides, which have caused costly closures that have devastated communities to the south — Montara, Moss Beach, El Granada, Princeton and Half Moon Bay.
The tunnels cost $439 million to build and took seven years to complete.