SF News

Lee Applauds Brown's Forestallment of Bart Strike

After California Gov. Jerry Brown stepped in to forestall a BART strike, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee raved over the governor's "decisive action."

Lee "applauded" the governor's decision to appoint a three-person board of inquiry to look into the ongoing contract talks "so that the people of the Bay Area will not endure a debilitating BART strike."

Had Brown not stepped in late Sunday night, a strike would have begun at midnight today.

The board will investigate the threatened strike.

The inquiry was called because Brown said a strike would "significantly disrupt public transportation services" and "endanger the public's health, safety and welfare."

The board is required to report back on the contract talks within seven days, with strikes and lockouts prohibited during the investigation.

Lee said the board "can help move this dispute toward resolution" and he urged both BART union and management leaders to reach an agreement that benefits both sides "as quickly as possible."

Leaders of Service Employees International Union Local 1021, which represents 1,430 mechanics, custodians and clerical workers, and Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555, which represents 945 station agents, train operators and clerical workers, notified BART on Thursday night that their members would go on strike today if a deal wasn't reached by midnight Sunday.

Negotiators were trying to strike a deal between BART and its two biggest unions on wages, pension and health care contributions.

But Lee said that a strike wouldn't hurt just BART and its employees, it would affect residents throughout the Bay Area.

"A strike would not only have a negative impact on our entire regional economy, but it would undoubtedly hurt working families … people who did not have a voice over the last several months during non-conclusive negotiations."

BART officials said they officially asked the governor Sunday to call for a cooling off period to allow them to continue to negotiate.

"This would allow us to continue negotiating while assuring the public that it will have transit service tomorrow and for another 60 days as we continue to bargain," BART Board President Tom Radulovich said in a letter to the governor.

Union officials expressed disappointment in the outcome and said BART has been bargaining in bad faith, with no real attempt to reach a compromise and no interest in addressing many concerns raised by the union.

They said the inquiry could help illuminate the problem, but will necessarily take energy away from contract talks.

"We've been here for the last 24 hours and we only got a very regressive proposal from BART in the past 45 minutes," said Josie Mooney, a negotiator for Service Employees International Union Local 1021.

Antonette Bryant, president of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555, said talks could have been resolved by the end of June if BART had been willing to negotiate.

"If the district would come to the table and bargain with us in good faith, none of this would be necessary, the governor would not have to get involved, the public worries would not be necessary," Bryant said.

BART officials have said they are focused on long term infrastructure repairs and improvement and reining in the costs of benefits.

"Our labor agreements must reflect those financial realities," Radulovich's letter to the governor said.

Lee, however, said the most important aspect to consider is the public.

"The riding public is and must remain our number one priority as all parties work to resolve this dispute."

 

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Friday Morning News Roundup

San Jose Ex-Teacher Guilty of Molesting Young Girls, Faces 75 Years to Life

A former San Jose teacher faces a sentence of 75 years to life in prison after his conviction Thursday of molesting five young girls at an elementary school, according to the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office.

A jury in Superior Court in San Jose found Craig Chandler, 36, guilty on all five felony counts of lewd and lascivious acts on a child under 14 and five additional multiple victim allegations, Deputy District Attorney Alison Filo said.

The felony convictions and multiple victim accusations, which are enhancements to sentencing, amounted to 15 years per count and Chandler could be sentenced to 75 years to life at a hearing set for Sept. 27, Filo said.

The mother of one of the five girls was in the courtroom when the verdict was read and "is incredibly relieved to be on the other side of this case," Filo said.

"The facts in this case are unimaginable," Filo said. "The tragedy that was inflicted by Mr. Chandler is unspeakable and the district attorney's office is certainly proud to have represented the victims to the best of our ability and hope this brings some closure to them so that they can move on with their lives."

The female victims were between the ages of 7 and 9 when Chandler molested them during recesses in his classroom at O.B. Whaley Elementary School in East San Jose sometime during the 2010 to 2011 and 2011 to 2012 school years, Filo said.

San Jose police arrested Chandler at his home Jan. 10, 2012.

The district attorney's office alleged that Chandler abused the girls by putting his penis in their mouths after blindfolding them alone in class during recess in what he said was a touch and feel game.

Each of the girls, who were all Chandler's students, testified in court for the prosecution and were "incredible," Filo said. "They were amazing."

The number of victims and the discovery of sperm on two children's chairs in Chandler's classroom that matched his DNA were among the things that persuaded the jury to convict him, Filo said.

Another key factor was the descriptions the children gave while on the witness stand about what happened to them in Chandler's classroom, Filo said.

"When you look at their testimony on the whole, there is just no other explanation for this conduct," Filo said.

"The children were made victims by duplicity, they were made victims by Mr. Chandler's hiding what he was doing," Filo said. "My greatest hope is that these children forget about being in Mr. Chandler's class and never realize the kind of victim that he made them."

Chandler's lawyer, Brian Madden, failed to persuade the jury during the trial that his client had been the victim of "a rush to judgment" by parents and police and that investigators asked the girls leading questions to which they gave biased and inconsistent answers.

Members of the Chandler's family, who attended his two-week trial, wept as the verdict was read.

Chandler, who was hunched over the defendant's table, at one point shook his head slowly.

Bart and Unions Battle to Win Public Support

BART officials and union leaders held dueling news conferences Thursday to try to win the public's support with only three days remaining before another potential strike Monday morning.

The day started with Antonette Bryant, the president of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555, which represents 945 station agents, train operators and clerical workers, and other union leaders alleging at a morning news conference that BART management's lead negotiator, Thomas Hock, has a history of engaging in hardball tactics and forcing strikes.

Bryant accused Hock and BART of engaging in "surface bargaining," which she said is a technique designed not to make progress.

Bryant said, "We come to the table every day to bargain but we can't bargain with ourselves," alleging that BART management isn't participating in a meaningful way.

BART management spokespersons then held a midday news conference to say that although the transit agency's employees deserve a raise, their new contract must address the escalating cost of their benefit packages.

BART spokesman Jim Allison said the agency's medical costs have grown 251 percent in 12 years and its pension costs have grown 126 percent in 10 years so it must begin to "normalize" employees' benefits too so they're closer to those earned by other public employees.

BART must keep its costs under control because it will need to make $6 billion in improvements to keep its trains system safe and reliable, Allison said.

Management met at the bargaining table at noon with negotiators for ATU Local 1555 members and Service Employees International Union Local 1021, which represents 1,430 mechanics, custodians and clerical workers, but talks ended at about 4 p.m. because union members left to participate in a rally and march at Frank Ogawa Plaza in downtown Oakland that was scheduled to begin at 5 p.m.

At the morning news conference, Bryant said the unions' felt justified in planning to leave the talks at 4 p.m. because management has left the bargaining table early at other sessions when the unions wanted to keep talking.

Bryant said the purpose of the rally and march is to "unite riders and workers" and said union leaders would be available to resume negotiations Thursday night.

However, BART spokesman Rick Rice said at 5 p.m. that he hadn't heard of any plans to resume the talks.

But he said negotiating sessions are scheduled for each of the next three days.

Bryant said union leaders have reached tentative agreements on some minor issues in the contract talks but said the two sides still have a lot of work to do before they can reach agreements on the big issues in the talks, which are wages, pension contributions, health care contributions and worker safety.

San Leandro Man Charged with Manslaughter for Fatal Crash

A suspected drunken driver has been charged with gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated for a crash that killed a 57-year-old woman in San Leandro early Sunday morning, prosecutors said.

Akeem King also has been charged with driving under the influence of alcohol and or drugs causing great bodily injury in connection with the crash, which occurred in the 14500 block of Washington Boulevard at about 2:30 a.m. Sunday, killing Lomina Faumuina, 57, and critically injuring Ronald Gene Hill, the man who was driving the car she was in.

King was also injured in the accident and was hospitalized.

San Leandro police said King was traveling at about 100 mph when it crashed head-on into the vehicle carrying Hill and Faumuina.

Bay Point Man Gets 21 Years for 2010 Fatal Shootings

A man was sentenced to 21 years in prison Thursday for the fatal shooting of a friend in Bay Point in 2010.

Bay Point resident Prudencio Rubio, 33, received the sentence in a Martinez courtroom in connection with the killing of 35-year-old Hector Sanchez, a friend with whom he used and sold methamphetamine, according to attorneys.

Rubio was initially charged with murder for the fatal shooting but accepted a plea deal last month in exchange for the lesser charge of voluntary manslaughter with an enhancement for the use of a gun.

Deputy District Attorney Molly Manoukian said that at the time of the shooting, Rubio and Sanchez were in an ongoing dispute over a woman and that Sanchez had threatened the defendant in the days leading up to the shooting.

Rubio appeared to be in a drug-fueled, paranoid state of mind when Sanchez paid him a visit at his Bay Point home the afternoon of Aug. 11, 2010, Manoukian said.

At some point during the encounter, the defendant shot Sanchez multiple times, killing him.

Rubio also shot himself in the leg in the process, then fled in his yellow Ford Escape and led police on a chase on state Highway 4, according to police.

When officers caught up with him a short time later, the defendant refused to get out of his car and repeatedly put a gun to his head.

Police said a hostage negotiation team was able to coax Rubio out of the SUV after about an hour and arrest him.

Rubio will be on lifelong parole upon his release from prison.

23 Year-Old Antioch Rapper Killed in Shooting

A 23-year-old man with ties to Richmond and Antioch was killed in a shooting in Antioch on Wednesday night, according to the Contra Costa County coroner's office.

Lavonta Crummie, a Richmond resident with an address in Antioch, was shot and killed around 7:30 p.m. on Delta Fair Boulevard near Buchanan Road, according to police and a coroner's deputy.

Crummie was pronounced dead at the scene.

An unidentified Vallejo man was also struck by the gunfire and taken to a hospital where he remains in critical condition, according to police.

No arrests have been made.

According to Crummie's Facebook page and other online records, the 23-year-old was a North Richmond rapper who went by the name of "Macho".

Police said witnesses described the suspect vehicle in the shooting as a gold four-door car that is possibly a Honda or Chevrolet.

Korean War Vet from SF Buried in San Bruno; Was Identified 60 Years After Death

After more than six decades of uncertainty, a family Thursday finally was able to bury the remains of a Korean War veteran from San Francisco who was identified recently via DNA technology.

Army Sgt. First Class Joseph Steinberg, 31, was among more than 100 U.S. soldiers who were taken as prisoners during a battle in 1951 and later died of malnutrition at a prison camp, his family said.

However, Steinberg's body remained missing until recently when scientists at a U.S. military DNA identification laboratory were able to identify them among boxes of remains that North Korea gave to the U.S. in the early 1990s.

Steinberg's niece and nephew were among more than 100 people who came out to the Golden Gate National Cemetery in San Bruno to see the missing soldier laid to rest.

"Never in a million years could I imagine this happening," said Marlene Baisa, Steinberg's niece who grew up with him in San Francisco's Mission District.

"Uncle Joe was a shining light in a very large family," Baisa said, recalling dancing and spending time with him before he joined the Army and served in both World War II and the Korean War.

"I have missed Uncle Joe my whole life," she said.

Baisa said Steinberg's brother Charles frequently wrote letters to the federal government asking for more information about what happened to his remains but passed away before receiving an answer.

Joseph was buried next to his brother Charles. Ron Smith, Steinberg's nephew, was only 4 years old when he died, but later joined the Marine Corps and said he wanted to attend the memorial service to honor his uncle and his military service.

Smith said Steinberg was apparently forced to march 100 miles to the prison camp where he eventually died.

He said it remains unclear why Steinberg died of starvation while other U.S. prisoners eventually were released and walked free.

"I would like to think others walked out because he considered the guy to his left and the guy to his right more important," he said.

The program for the memorial service showed a San Francisco Examiner photo from 1953 of Baisa holding a photo of her missing uncle.

Baisa said that although it has taken 62 years to bring her uncle to his final resting place back in the Bay Area, his memory lived on through his family.

"He's always been right here," she said, pointing to her heart.

Redwood City Man Who Killed Poodle Sentenced to 3 Years Felony Probation

A man who killed a poodle received his sentencing Thursday, which included three years of felony probation, according to the San Mateo County District Attorney's Office

Marcos Montano-Topete, 33, attacked his 16-year-old next-door neighbor's 26-pound poodle Globsis with a brick March 26, 2012, Chief Deputy District Attorney Karen Guidotti said.

The dog whimpered in a pool of its own blood in front of Topete's home, and ultimately had to be euthanized by the Peninsula Humane Society.

Topete was found guilty Feb. 8 for felony counts of malicious killing of an animal and animal cruelty.

The unincorporated Redwood City resident was sentenced to three years felony probation; one year in county jail, 352 days of which have been credited; 12 counseling sessions pertaining to animal care; and restitution of $800 to be paid to the victim.

He is not allowed to live in a home or work where animals are present, Guidotti said.

Topete had been out of custody on $10,000 bail bond during the trial.

Alameda County Judge Faces Probation After Elder Abuse Plea

A former Alameda County Superior Court judge who was accused of stealing the life savings of his elderly neighbor in the Berkeley Hills over a period of more than a decade faces only five years' probation under a plea agreement reached Thursday.

Paul Seeman, 58, was charged with 12 counts each of perjury and offering a false or forged instrument, three counts each of elder theft and grand theft, and two counts of unauthorized disclosure of information.

Of the 32 total counts, all were felonies except for the two counts of unauthorized disclosure of information, which were misdemeanors.

Seeman had potentially faced a lengthy sentence if he'd been convicted of all the charges against him, but the Alameda County District Attorney's Office agreed to dismiss most of the charges and to accept his no contest plea to two felonies: one count each of elder abuse and perjury.

Seeman's hearing at the Wiley Manuel Courthouse in Oakland was handled by retired Placer County Superior Court Judge J. Richard Couzens, as all Alameda County judges had recused themselves from his case.

Couzens will sentence Seeman at a hearing Oct. 22.

The charges against Seeman stem from allegations that he stole from his neighbor, Anne Nutting, after her husband Lee died in 1999 at age 90.

Nutting died at the age of 97 in April 2010.

Berkeley police had investigated Seeman for more than two years before he was arrested in his chambers at the Wiley Manuel Courthouse in Oakland on June 15, 2012.

He spent one night in custody at the Glenn Dyer Jail, which is next to the courthouse, but then was released on $552,000 bail.

Seeman was put on leave shortly after he was arrested but continued to receive his judicial salary until he agreed in March to resign from his job as judge.

A declaration filed in court by Berkeley police states that Seeman befriended Nutting in December 1998 after her husband fell at the couple's home on Santa Barbara Road and police found the home to be uninhabitable because of hoarding.

Police said Seeman obtained power of attorney for the couple the next month after he found $1 million in stock certificates and uncashed dividend checks in their home.

According to police, Seeman arranged the sale of two Santa Cruz properties the couple owned after Lee Nutting died in late 1999 and by August 2004 he had assumed control of nearly all of Anne Nutting's monetary affairs, putting his name on her financial accounts, which contained more than $2.2 million.

District Attorney spokeswoman Teresa Drenick said that as a result of Seeman's convictions, he is barred by law from judicial office and disbarred from practicing law in California and he will be required not to "harm, molest or annoy" Ali Mehrizi, who married Anne Nutting after Lee Nutting did and is her surviving husband.

Drenick said Seeman has already paid the amount of $299,436 in restitution for loan and interest costs and will pay an additional restitution of $5,649 before he's sentenced.

District Attorney Nancy O'Malley said in a statement that she believes, "Justice is served through the resolution of this case" because Seeman "will never serve in a position of trust or authority again as a result of these convictions."

O'Malley said Seeman "was removed from his judicial seat as a result of this case" and will be on probation for five years "with extensive terms and conditions."

O'Malley said, "Paul Seeman is not a free man; he is under the authority of the Probation Department for the next several years" and can be sent to county jail or local prison if he violates any term or condition of his probation.

She said, "Seeman has paid for his breach of trust as a judicial officer and, he has paid for his financial abuse of the elderly victim who has since passed away."

Seeman's lawyer, Laurel Headley, didn't return a phone call seeking comment on his case.

Oakland Movie Theater Allowing Patrons to Pay What They Want This Month

To thank moviegoers for their support, patrons of a movie theater in Oakland will be able to pay whatever amount they want this month as part of a program that will also benefit local nonprofits, the theater's general manager said.

The New Parkway Theater, located at 474 24th St., is kicking off Karma Cinema Month through the end of August, general manager J Moses Ceaser said.

The New Parkway opened late last year and sells beer, wine, pizza and other meals that can be taken into the theater during a movie.

Although under different management, the theater is similar in spirit to the Parkway Speakeasy Theater, which was at a different location and closed in 2009 because of financial difficulties.

To thank all of the community members who fought for a new theater, The New Parkway will allow patrons to pay whatever they want, whether it's nothing or an amount well above the normal price of a movie ticket, Ceaser said.

"We'll get everything across the range," he said. "But if someone gives nothing, they're still going to get the same phenomenal treatment as someone who donates $100."

Theater staff will also be giving out various freebies to moviegoers this month as thanks for their support, Ceaser said.

"There are hundreds if not thousands of people who helped get the theater open," he said. "The theater is only open right now because of their generosity."

To increase its commitment to the community, the theater is donating 30 percent of its ticket sales in August to four local nonprofits -- Alameda County Community Food Bank, College Track, the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights and Hopalong Animal Rescue.

Ceaser said the idea for Karma Cinema Month came from his experience volunteering at Karma Kitchen, a restaurant in Berkeley that allowed customers to pay in advance for a future customer's meal.

"As you come through the door, you're told by the greeter that your meal is paid for, and at the end you would have the opportunity to leave a donation for future diners," he said. "It was totally based on trust and generosity."

Woody Allen Film 'Blue Jasmine' Filmed in SF Opens in Bay Area Theaters Friday

The latest Woody Allen film starring Cate Blanchett and Alec Baldwin that uses San Francisco as the drama's setting is opening in Bay Area theaters today.

"Blue Jasmine," written and directed by Allen, is about a wealthy New York City woman who finds herself broke.

She heads to San Francisco to live with her sister while discovering a new lifestyle.

Many parts of the film were shot in San Francisco for four-weeks last August, San Francisco Film Commission executive director Susannah Greason Robbins said.

She said the film does a good job of "showcasing the off-the-beaten track parts of San Francisco" and not just the iconic locations.

Last summer there were sightings of Allen, along with actors Blanchett, Peter Sarsgaard and others, in the Mission District and downtown and Union Square areas.

There was also filming in the Marina District, near Ocean Beach in the Sunset District and in parts of Marin County.

Robbins said the movie crew was mostly locally hired.

The film opened in Los Angeles and New York last week and before the opening there was a special screening last Thursday with some of the cast and crew in San Francisco, Robbins said.

The film will be screened at select theaters in San Francisco, Oakland, Mill Valley, San Rafael, Albany and Pleasant Hill.

Redwood City Man Arrested for Carjacking, Fleeing from Law Enforcement

A man was arrested following a carjacking early Thursday morning in Redwood City, police said.

Bryan Rios Serrato, 19, of Redwood City, allegedly brandished a knife at a 29-year-old man in his car while in the garage of his apartment complex in the 1000 block of Beech Street around 2:50 a.m., according to police.

The victim gave Serrato the keys to his car when the suspect demanded his wallet, according to police.

The victim pushed the suspect and ran, and Serrato got into the car and fled, police said.

Officers responded to a countywide be-on-the-lookout for the car, and about two hours later, a San Mateo County sheriff's deputy spotted it near Woodside Road and El Camino Real, police said.

Serrato fled at a high rate of speed when the deputy attempted to conduct a traffic stop, and a short pursuit ensued, ending when Serrato crashed the car in the 400 block of Roosevelt Avenue, police said.

He then ran away from the car and the deputy pursued and caught up to him in the 500 block of Lincoln Avenue, according to police.

Serrato was arrested after a brief struggle.

The victim was not injured in the carjacking.

Serrato was booked into San Mateo County Jail on suspicion of carjacking, robbery, felony evading with a vehicle and assault on a law enforcement officer.

Novato Pickup Truck Passenger Injured by Crash

A Point Reyes man suffered major injuries when he was hit by the pickup he was riding in after it was struck by a box truck on southbound U.S. Highway 101 in Novato on Wednesday afternoon, a California Highway Patrol officer said.

A motorist passing by the 1977 Ford pickup indicated there was an unsecured item in the back of the truck, CHP Officer Andrew Barclay said.

The driver, Jared Sperry, 38, of Point Reyes, pulled over on the right shoulder just south of the Redwood Landfill.

His passenger, Aaron Mudrich, 30, got out of the 1997 Ford pickup to secure the item around 2:20 p.m., Barclay said.

Javier Rodriguez, 30, of Alameda, was driving a 26-foot Freightliner box truck south in the No. 2 slow lane and moved into the No. 1 fast lane when he saw the pickup on the side of the road, Barclay said.

As Rodriguez was changing lanes, he heard a loud bang from under the box truck, which then turned hard to the right and hit the left front of the Ford pickup, Barclay said.

The crash caused the Ford pickup to rotate and strike Mudrich, Barclay said.

The pickup then rolled onto the driver's side injuring Sperry.

The box truck continued across the shoulder of the highway and into a field on the west side of the road, Barclay said. Sperry and Mudrich were taken to Marin General Hospital, and Rodriguez was not injured, Barclay said.

Witnesses also stated there was a bang from the box truck before the crash, Barclay said.

The incident is under investigation, but the loud bang might have been from the blowout of the right front tire that would have caused the box truck to turn hard to the right, Barclay said.

Two tires on the box truck were flat when the CHP arrived, but it's unknown when they became flat, Barclay said.

The back of the Ford pickup was empty except for a rope that might have been hanging out of the back of the truck, Barclay said.

Intoxication is not believed to be a factor.

The incident is a reminder to motorists on highways not to get out of vehicles unless there is an emergency, Barclay said.

Market Street Bicycle Barometer Tallying Riders Again After Turned Off In June

The bicycle barometer in San Francisco's Mid-Market neighborhood had been turned off in June but was up and counting again Thursday, a transportation agency spokesman said.

The electronic counter on the south side of Market Street between Ninth and 10th streets had been off for a city repaving project since June 8, San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency spokesman Paul Rose said.

Crews worked Wednesday evening to reactivate the counter, which was back to tallying the number of bicyclists that pedal by in time for the morning commute, Paul Rose said.

The 7.5-foot-tall and 1.5-foot-wide device was installed in May.

The SF Bicycle Coalition gave a $20,000 donation toward the $70,000 installation project.

The device aims to encourage bicycling as an alternate commute option. Transit employees are working with the city's Department of Technology and the Department of Public Works to maintain and monitor the barometer.

There were 2,254 riders tallied on the counter as of Thursday afternoon.

Bay Area Weather Forecast 8/2

Cloudy skies and patchy fog are expected in the Bay Area this morning, becoming sunny later in the day. Highs are likely to be in the 50s to upper 60s, with winds up to 20 mph in the afternoon. Mostly clear skies are expected this evening, with patchy fog after midnight. Lows are likely to be in the mid 50s, with westerly winds up to 20 mph. Cloudy skies and patchy fog are likely Saturday morning.Highs are expected to be in the upper 50s to mid 60s, with southwest winds up to 20 mph.

 

 

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Hit and Run Along Embarcadero, Pedestrian Hospitalized

A pedestrian was hospitalized after being struck by a pickup truck in a hit-and-run along The Embarcadero in San Francisco early this morning, a police spokesman said.

The 51-year-old man was struck shortly after 5 a.m. at The Embarcadero and Howard Street, police spokesman Officer Gordon Shyy said. The driver of the truck, a white pickup, then drove away toward Interstate Highway 80 and had not been found as of this morning, Shyy said.

The pedestrian was taken to San Francisco General Hospital to be treated for injuries but was in good condition and was expected to be released later today, Shyy said.

Anyone with information about the hit-and-run is encouraged to call the Police Department's anonymous tip line at (415) 575-4444 or to send a tip by text message to TIP411 with "SFPD" in the message.

 

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38-Geary Muni Bus Catches Fire in Outer Richmond

A San Francisco Municipal Railway bus caught fire in the city's Outer Richmond neighborhood this morning, a Muni spokesman said.

The fire was reported at 6:46 a.m. in the engine of a 38-Geary bus parked at Point Lobos Avenue and 48th Avenue near Lands End, Muni spokesman Paul Rose said.

The fire damaged the left rear side of the bus and was extinguished a couple of minutes later, Rose said. Rose said the bus driver and one passenger were on board at the time but were not injured.

The bus has since been towed back to a Muni maintenance yard and investigators will look at the vehicle's surveillance video to try to figure out what caused the fire, he said.

 

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Weather Forecast for the SF Bay Area

Cloudy skies and patchy fog are expected in the Bay Area this
morning, becoming sunny later in the day. Highs are likely to be in the 50s
to upper 60s, with winds up to 20 mph in the afternoon.

Mostly clear skies are expected this evening, with patchy fog
after midnight. Lows are likely to be in the mid 50s, with westerly winds up
to 20 mph.

Cloudy skies and patchy fog are likely Saturday morning. Highs are
expected to be in the upper 50s to mid 60s, with southwest winds up to 20
mph.
 
Sign up for our weekly newsletter and join the conversation on Facebook.
Check out some of our most popular blogs:
     We Built a Stronger SF Economy on Smart Government Investments
     The BART That Could Have Been
     Run For Your Life! (For Fun)
     Love Muni, Hate Muni or Somewhere in Between? Let the SFMTA Know!
 

Wednesday Morning News Roundup

BART Riders Prepare for Another Strike 

BART management met with union leaders again Tuesday to try to reach an agreement before the contract for the transit agency's employees expires Sunday night but a union official said the talks weren't productive. 
Josie Mooney, one of the lead negotiators for Service International Union Local 1021, which represents 1,430 mechanics, custodians and clerical workers, said, "I would not characterize this as a good day." 
Mooney said Tuesday was the first time in 11 days that BART met in the same room with SEIU Local 1021 representatives and leaders of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555, which represents 945 station agents, train operators and clerical workers, in talks that are being facilitated by two state mediators. 
She said the session, which started at 4:15 p.m., only lasted 40 minutes and during that time BART negotiators rejected "with very little comment" four proposals that union representatives made on July 19. 
Earlier Tuesday, BART spokeswoman Alicia Trost said even though the transit agency's negotiators haven't been in the same room with union negotiators in recent days, management and union representatives have been meeting regularly with the mediators. 
"The parties sit in separate rooms and the mediator shuttles contract offers back and forth," Trost said. "We've been doing what the mediator has asked." 
However, Mooney alleged that BART violated a gag order imposed by the mediators that the two sides not discuss contract details when it held a news conference Tuesday to discuss the details of its latest offer to employees. 
"BART violated the rules of engagement," Mooney said. 
Trost said BART released the details because it believes that the public should know the details of its offer because "taxpayer money is involved and taxpayers have a right to know and we have to be accountable to them." 
Trost said management has moved a great deal since its initial offer to employees in the talks, which began on April 1. She said management initially wanted to "take back" $140 million from employees in wages, retirement costs and health care costs but its most recent proposal would give them an additional $33 million over the next four years. 
Specifically, Trost said BART has doubled its salary proposal to 8 percent over four years, lowered its pension contribution to 5 percent over four years, which she said is lower than what other public employees pay, and lowered its medical premium contribution to less than what average public and private sector employees pay. 
In contrast, Trost said union leaders' are asking for a 21.5 percent pay increase over three years and want to continue paying just $92 a month for healthcare and only want to make a 3 percent pension contribution at the end of three years. 
Mooney said she didn't want to violate the mediators' gag order by discussing the details of the contract proposals but she said BART's proposal would still result in cutbacks in the total economic package for many employees. 
Contract talks will resume at 10 a.m. today, Mooney said. 
BART employees went on strike the morning of July 1 but late on July 4 they agreed to extend their previous contract for 30 days, until Aug. 4, and return to work the afternoon of July 5. 
The four-and-a-half day strike clogged local highways and caused commuting headaches for Bay Area residents. 
Regional transit officials, who fear that the commuting nightmare could be repeated next Monday if BART doesn't reach an agreement with its employees by Sunday night, held a conference call Tuesday to develop contingency plans to try to deal with another strike. 

3-Alarm Fire in Salinas Destroy's Structures After Propane Tank Blew Up Inside Garage 

A home and a four-unit apartment building were destroyed and three other structures were damaged in a 3-alarm fire in Salinas Tuesday after propane tanks blew up inside of a garage, a fire chief said. 
The Salinas Fire Department and other fire agencies knocked down the blaze at about 4:45 p.m. in a residential area in the 1100 block of Mohar Street, Salinas Fire Chief Edmond Rodriguez said. 
Salinas firefighters were dispatched at about 3:20 p.m. to the fire that apparently started in the garage of the home that was eventually destroyed, Rodriguez said. 
Firefighters were told about multiple explosions heard inside the garage that were later determined to be from propane tanks, Rodriguez said. 
The house fire spread to a nearby two-story, four-unit apartment building to the east that then burned down completely, Rodriguez said. 
The exterior to another four-unit apartment building and parts of two other structures sustained minor to moderate damage, Rodriguez said. 
No one was injured in the fire, Rodriguez said. 
About 100 firefighters participated in dousing the fire, including nearly the entire Salinas Fire Department, Rodriguez said. 
Other fire agencies that sent personnel to fight the blaze included Cal Fire, the cities of Seaside and Monterey, the Monterey County Regional Fire District and the North County Fire Protection District of Monterey County, Rodriguez said. 

Proposed Radical Mortgage Changes for the City of Richmond

Richmond is launching a radical program demanding banks to sell mortgages to the city in an effort to help underwater homeowners refinance and prevent foreclosure, city leaders and supporters announced Tuesday. 
The city has sent out letters to banks and lenders offering to buy more than 600 Richmond residents' mortgages in order to restructure the loans and make monthly payments more affordable for homeowners at risk of foreclosure, Mayor Gayle McLaughlin said. 
The offers were sent out to 32 lenders holding 624 loans that are underwater, including 180 that are behind on payments, said Graham Williams of Mortgage Resolution Partners, or MRP, the San Francisco-based investment firm partnering with the city on the plan. 
"After years of waiting on the banks to offer up a more comprehensive fix or the federal government to fix it, we're stepping into the void and making it happen ourselves," the mayor said at a morning news conference. 
MRP has lined up the investment money to buy the homes at a discount, based on the property's estimated value after foreclosure. Then, the city will help the homeowner get a loan backed by the Federal Housing Administration that would allow lower monthly mortgage payments, according to McLaughlin. 
The program won't cost the city any money, since MRP has agreed to provide money both to buy the homes and to litigate any legal challenges against the plan, according to McLaughlin and MRP Executive Chairman Steven Gluckstern. 
If lenders don't take the city up on its offer, Richmond will consider using its powers of eminent domain to force a purchase and seize the mortgages, McLaughlin said. 
Eminent domain is a governmental power typically used to buy private land for public purposes such as parks or roads, said former North Carolina Congressman Brad Miller, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress. 
Under eminent domain, property must be sold at fair market value. 
Miller said Tuesday that he has long pushed the idea of local governments using eminent domain "as a way to deal with the housing crisis." 
But banks and lobbyists have vocally opposed the plan, contending that it would have a negative effect on the city and make it tougher for local residents to get mortgages in the future, McLaughlin said. 
Both San Bernardino County and the city of Salinas also considered working with MRP to launch a similar program but opted against the plan after banks threatened lawsuits, according to MRP. 
McLaughlin said Richmond has received the same threats from the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association and other lobbyists. 
"There's no way we're going to back down on this -- it's our community that's at stake here, it's our community that is suffering, and I stand with our community in making sure the damage gets reversed," she said. 
The unprecedented program has gained the support of community and faith-based groups in Richmond as well as the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE) and Home Defenders League, a national movement of underwater homeowners and their allies. 
ACCE campaign director Amy Schur said Tuesday that while Richmond is the first city to launch the plan, others throughout the country, including Newark, N.J. and Seattle, are expected to follow suit. 
"This is a national movement...Richmond is the first, but this idea really has some momentum," Schur said. 

California Public Utilities Commission Regulate Smartphone-Enabled Rideshare Services 

The California Public Utilities Commission has weighed in on how to regulate smartphone-enabled rideshare services with a proposed decision released Tuesday afternoon. 
The proposal aims to ensure public safety for drivers and users of transportation network companies, which the CPUC defines as a company or organization that provides transportation services using an online-enabled platform to connect passengers with drivers who are using their own vehicles. 
As part of the recommendations, companies, such as Lyft, Uber and Sidecar, would have to be licensed by the CPUC, run background checks on drivers, have a driver-training program, and have a more stringent insurance policy. 
The CPUC would require a $1 million per-incident coverage policy for rideshare vehicles and drivers during a trip with passengers. 
There would also be a zero-tolerance drug and alcohol policy. 
The CPUC, which regulates passenger carriers, had an administrative law judge compile the report on rideshare companies. 
In December, the commission tasked the judge with gathering information to "evaluate the safety of ridesharing businesses that utilize the Internet, social media, and location services to arrange transportation of passengers over public highways for compensation," according to CPUC documents. 
Various local agencies, companies and organizations submitted comments to the CPUC before the proposal was released, including various rideshare companies, taxi companies, taxi advocacy groups, the San Francisco International Airport Commission and the California Highway Patrol
The CHP wrote in a letter to the judge in March that the rideshare companies cannot be left unregulated because it "increases the potential for operation of unsafe vehicles, unqualified drivers and uninsured transportation providers." 
In another document, airport officials had contended that the term "rideshare" for these companies was misleading and asked for the CPUC to not allow the drivers to take passengers to and from the airport, citing passenger safety and security concerns. 
As defined by the CPUC, a rideshare involves a driver transporting passengers to a destination, usually work-related, without profiting from the ride. 
The airport said drivers and companies profit from the "ridesharing" system. 
In June, Sidecar company officials submitted a letter that outlined what they called "the potential benefits of ridesharing." 
In the letter, officials wrote, "New dynamic ridesharing platforms are now innovating in ways that have the unique potential to overcome traditional barriers and unlock the true potential of rideshare -- if regulatory models keep in step." 
The letter continued, "These platforms are not designed or intended to displace public transportation, corporate vanpooling, taxis or limousines services, but rather to complement multi-modal transportation networks." 
In the letter, the company asked the commission to implement a "new framework" that encourages "innovative transportation technologies, business forms and sharing models." 
The proposed decision is open to public comment for the next 30 days before the commission has its first opportunity to vote on the recommendations on Sept. 5. 

New Member of the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors; Cindy Chavez

Former San Jose Vice Mayor Cindy Chavez appears to have won a seat on the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors, according to preliminary results of Tuesday's special election. 
Chavez defeated Teresa Alvarado in a runoff election after the two received the most votes but fell short of a majority in June's special election to replace disgraced former Supervisor George Shirakawa
In Tuesday's election Chavez received 11,814 votes, or 55.55 percent, and Alvarado received 9,455 votes, or 44.45 percent, according to the Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters. 
Chavez, 49, said during her campaign that the community needed "safe, vibrant schools so our children can thrive, good paying jobs and affordable health care so families can succeed, and more police and sheriff deputies on the streets to stop the escalation of violence." 
She won the support of teachers and other public sector labor organizations. 
District 2 includes the County Government Center where the Board of Supervisors meet, all of downtown San Jose and much of East San Jose, according to the county's website. 
The Board of Supervisors approved the election to replace Shirakawa after he resigned March 1 in light of a 12-count criminal complaint filed that day by the district attorney's office. 
The office charged that Shirakawa obtained more than $130,000 in public and campaign funds for personal use and to gamble at casinos. 
He later pleaded guilty to four felony counts of perjury, one felony count of misuse of public funds and seven misdemeanors for filing inaccurate campaign and government finance reports. 
Shirakawa still has not been sentenced for the criminal convictions.  

Closing Arguments Began in Stacey Lonnberg Trial   

Closing arguments began Tuesday in the San Jose trial of a Gilroy woman charged with killing her husband and daughter in a drunken-driving accident on state Highway 85 near Los Gatos in 2012. 
Stacey Lonnberg, 52, is charged with two counts of vehicular murder and one count of child endangerment in the deaths of Frederic Lonnberg, 57, and Tiffiny Gillette, 26, while she drove north on the highway on Jan. 14, 2012. 
Lonnberg got behind the wheel of a 2002 Toyota Tacoma with her husband, daughter and 1-year-old grandson after consuming seven to eight drinks of vodka and the pain medication oxycodone, according to the Deputy District Attorney Matt Braker. 
While driving on the highway close to Winchester Boulevard on a car trip to Belmont, Lonnberg was driving more than 85 miles per hour, made an unsafe lane change and hit a pickup truck, Braker said. 
The force of the impact sent the Toyota out of control and it flipped over multiple times before coming to rest in the center of the roadway, Braker said. 
Gillette, in the rear left passenger seat without wearing a safety belt, was ejected onto the roadway. Frederic Lonnberg, who wore his seat belt in the front passenger seat, died later at a hospital from being partially ejected during the rollovers. 
Both Stacey Lonnberg and her grandson survived without serious injuries.      
Braker told jurors Tuesday morning that the defendant committed murder with implied malice aforethought because she knew she would be driving while impaired by alcohol and drugs and disregarded the threat she posed to the lives of her family members and others. 
Lonnberg had a prior arrest on suspicion of drunken driving, took a 12-hour class in the effects of driving drunk, and had received warnings from medical professionals about the dangers, Braker said.   
"This case is about a defendant being aware of a risk and going ahead and doing it anyway," Braker said. "It's way down the road as far as egregious conduct. Two people died." 
Braker recalled for jurors the testimony from an expert witness for the prosecution who estimated that prior to the accident, Lonnberg's blood alcohol level was about .20, more than twice the legal limit, Braker said. 
"She's at .20, seven to eight drinks in the course of an hour is what it's going to take," Braker said, "That's a lot of booze in your system." 
Braker also asked the jury to find Lonnberg guilty of endangering the life of her grandson, who was strapped into a car seat assigned for older children that was "not legal or sufficient," while driving impaired. 
After taking the witness stand on Monday, Lonnberg, under questioning by defense lawyer Javier Rios, admitted to being drunk at the time of the deadly crash and to have driven drunk "thousands of times" before without getting into an accident. 
In his closing statement Tuesday, Rios said that there was no doubt that Lonnberg was drunk during the accident, but that the prosecution did not provide evidence beyond a reasonable doubt proving she actually intended to kill her husband and daughter. 
For her to want kill them that day "her heart would have to be so cold, depraved, malignant," but Lonnberg loved her husband and daughter, Rios said.  
"Any murder charge is for the worst of the worst," Rios said. 
"That's not what we have here." 
Rios described Lonnberg as an alcoholic who grew up with alcoholic parents and said while Lonnberg was a girl, her mother routinely drove her to and from bars while drunk and never got into an accident, which influenced Lonnberg's conduct as an adult. 
Lonnberg admitted during her own testimony to driving while intoxicated that day but that she felt fine and fit to drive prior to the accident, Rios said. 
"Why was Stacey 100 percent sure? She had done it thousands of times," Rios said. "It's safe for me to drive DUI. That's what she was thinking." 
"She's not thinking this is dangerous to human life," Rio said. 
"It does not enter into her brain."  

Recycle Workers in San Leandro Walked Off Job Tuesday

Recycling workers at a Waste Management facility in San Leandro walked off the job Tuesday to protest what they say are low wages and dangerous working conditions. 
The employees, who are members of International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 6's recycling unit, also are meeting with Oakland City Council members Tuesday to discuss a long-term contract that the city is negotiating with Waste Management and another company, California Waste Solutions, union spokesman Craig Merrilees said. 
California Waste Solutions employees also are participating in the one-day walkout, Merrilees said. He estimated that about 200 employees are participating in the job action. 
The contract isn't on the agenda for the council's meeting tonight but workers will discuss it during the open forum part of the meeting, according to Merrilees. 
Waste Management spokesman David Tucker said that contract won't begin until July 2015. 
Tucker said the walkout isn't affecting the company's customers in Alameda County because their waste and recycling materials are being picked up by Teamsters union members who aren't participating in the job action. 
Merrilees said the people who are participating in the walkout work at Waste Management's transfer station on Davis Street in San Leandro, where they sort recycling material. 
Evangelina Macias, a 66-year-old San Leandro woman who worked for Waste Management for 13 years, was killed at the facility on June 19, 2012, after she was struck by a piece of heavy equipment. 
Although Macias was a landfill worker, Merrilees said her death is an example of the dangers that recycling workers face at the facility. 
Tucker said Waste Management has had a "stellar" safety record at the San Leandro facility except for Macias' death and it has implemented additional safety measures since then. 
Merrilees said most recycling workers for Waste Management and California Waste Solutions in Alameda County only make $12.67 per hour and are upset that their pay is much less than recycling workers in San Francisco and San Jose who are paid $20 an hour for similar work. 
Tucker said Waste Management "has been seeking a fair, reasonable and sustainable agreement that includes employee participation in covering a small portion of their health and welfare premiums." 
He said Local 6's last contract with Waste Management was negotiated in 2006 and expired in February 2011 and workers have continued to work under the terms of that agreement. 
Tucker said recycling workers are seeking a 65 percent increase in compensation over five years but management is offering a 3 percent increase for each year of five years, for a total increase of $2 an hour. 
The company also is offering a company-paid pension plan for employees, Tucker said. 
He said clerical and landfill workers who belong to ILWU Local 6 accepted similar offers in April, but Merrilees said those workers are paid much more than recycling employees. 
Merrilees said the recycling workers feel "antagonized and insulted" by Waste Management and California Waste Solutions because of their low pay as well as their unsafe working conditions. 
California Waste Solutions officials couldn't be reached for comment. 

San Leandro Real Estate Agent Arrested for Six Felonies

A San Leandro real estate agent was arrested and charged Tuesday with six felonies for allegedly defrauding a Lafayette couple out of $270,000 and filing false tax returns, Contra Costa County prosecutors said. 
Judy T. Gong, 53, was arrested on suspicion of embezzlement, perjury, forgery, tax fraud crimes and an enhancement for excessive loss and could face up to eight years in prison for the alleged offenses, according to the Contra Costa County District Attorney's Office. 
The arrest comes more than two years after the victims, a Lafayette couple in their 50s, called the district attorney's office to complain about Gong, who was controlling the couple's line of home equity credit, according to Deputy District Attorney Ken McCormick. 
The couple had inherited a home and contacted Gong about getting a home equity line of credit for the property. 
An investigation revealed that Gong embezzled the couple's money, pocketing their mortgage payments, McCormick said. 
In addition, the real estate agent convinced the couple to get a second mortgage and embezzled those payments, too, he said. 
On that loan, she used a forged document to transfer money from the loan to her own bank account, the prosecutor said. 
Gong pocketed a total of $270,000 from the two mortgages, according to the district attorney's office. 
"This case is all about greed," McCormick said. 
During the investigation into the alleged embezzlement, the district attorney's office sent Gong's bank records to the state franchise tax board. 
The state investigation revealed that Gong had committed major tax crimes -- underreporting her income by $500,000 in 2008 and failing to report $418,000 in 2009, prosecutors said. 
After her arrest in San Leandro Tuesday morning, Gong was taken to county jail in Martinez, where she is being held on $400,000. 
Anyone else who believes they have been victimized by Gong is asked to call the district attorney's real estate fraud unit at (925) 957-2200. 

Scott Wiener Wants to Issue Parking Tickets for Cars Double-Parked in SF

Vehicles double parked on San Francisco streets are the target of a hearing that a city supervisor called for at Tuesday's board meeting. 
Supervisor Scott Wiener called for the hearing in response to what he said is "a long-time festering problem in the city." 
Wiener said cars, taxis and other vehicles that double park on city streets clog up traffic and also cause safety problems for bicyclists who have to veer around the stopped cars. 
He said he wants San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency parking control officers to provide more consistent enforcement of double parkers. 
SFMTA spokesman Paul Rose said the agency has issued approximately 22,000 double parking citations in the past year, a number that Wiener questioned. 
"I've lived in San Francisco for 16 years and I've never seen a double parking ticket issued," he said. 
Wiener said more consistent enforcement of double parking, which comes with a $110 ticket, will get drivers to think twice before stopping their vehicles illegally. 
"If people believe they may get a double parking ticket, we'll see a lot less double parking," he said. 
The hearing, which will take place at a future date at the board's land use and economic development committee, will include reports from SFMTA officials on traffic impacts, enforcement policies and citation statistics. 
"We welcome the spotlight on the issue and look forward to working with the supervisor," Rose said. 

Bay Area Weather Forecast 7/31

Cloudy skies and patchy fog are expected in the Bay Area this morning. Highs are likely to be in the 50s to mid 60s, with southwest winds up to 30 mph in the afternoon. 
Partly cloudy skies are expected this evening, with patchy fog after midnight. Lows are likely to be in the mid 50s, with westerly winds up to 30 mph. 
Cloudy skies and patchy fog are likely Thursday morning. Highs are expected to be in the 50s to mid 60s, with westerly winds up to 30 mph.

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Man Arrested For Brutal Pride Weekend Attack

An Oakland man has been arrested for allegedly kicking a woman in the head while robbing her during Pride weekend in San Francisco last month, police said today.

Christopher Porter-Bailey, 23, was arrested last Friday for the attack, which happened near Market and Dolores streets at about 1:50 a.m. on June 30 after the Pink Saturday celebration.

The victim, a 28-year-old woman, was robbed of her purse by a group of suspects and was knocked to the pavement.

While she was down, one suspect kicked her in the head, causing her to lose consciousness, according to police.

Days later, police released surveillance video of the attack, which sent the woman to the hospital. She has since been treated and released.

Police were eventually able to identify the suspect in the attack as Porter-Bailey, police spokesman Officer Albie Esparza said.

He was arrested and booked into custody on suspicion of robbery, aggravated assault and battery likely to produce serious injury, Esparza said.

Investigators are also trying to determine whether Porter-Bailey and other suspects in the group committed other robberies and assaults around the same time period along Market Street between Civic Center and the Castro District.

Anyone with information about the case is encouraged to call the Police Department's Mission Station investigation team at (415) 558-5400.

 

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Police Activity at Embarcadero BART Station Wraps Up, Trains Getting Back on Schedule

BART service through San Francisco was briefly disrupted this morning as police searched for a suspect at the Embarcadero station, a BART spokeswoman said.

Trains were stopped at the station around 8:30 a.m. as officers investigated reports of a person with a weapon, spokeswoman Luna Salaver said.

No weapon was found and the scene was cleared shortly before 8:40 a.m., she said.

The incident initially caused delays of up to 20 minutes but as of 9 a.m. the delays were down to five to 10 minutes, a BART employee said.

 

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Man and Woman Stabbed in Golden Gate Park

A man and a woman were stabbed in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park near the Haight Ashbury neighborhood early this morning, according to police.

The stabbings, located at Alvord Lake near the intersection of Stanyan and Haight streets was reported at about 2:30 a.m., police said.

Officers responded to the scene and located a man and a woman suffering from stab wounds.

The woman, possibly in her 40s, was stabbed in the chest.

She was transported to San Francisco General Hospital with life-threatening injuries, police said.

The man is believed to be in his 20s or 30s and was stabbed in the abdomen.

He was also transported to San Francisco General Hospital with life-threatening injuries, according to police.

Police are searching for two suspects who were last seen heading northbound on Stanyan Street in a maroon vehicle.

One suspect is described as a heavy-set black male with dreadlocks.

The second suspect is described as a black male wearing a white hooded sweatshirt, police said.

Police are continuing to investigate the stabbing and process the crime scene near the Haight Street entrance to Golden Gate Park.

 

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Two Stabbed in Golden Gate Park Near Haight Ashbury

Two people were stabbed in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park near the Haight Ashbury neighborhood early this morning, according to police.

The stabbings, located at Alvord Lake near the intersection of Stanyan and Haight streets was reported at about 2:30 a.m.

According to police, the stabbings were not fatal. The extent of the injuries has not been reported.

 

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Tuesday Morning News Roundup

Airline Employee, Wife Arrested After Allegedly Stealing Diverted Passengers' Luggage

An airline employee appeared in a Redwood City court Friday after he was accused of stealing luggage from travelers whose flight was diverted after the deadly Asiana Airlines Flight 214 crash at San Francisco International Airport earlier this month.

Sean Crudup, 44, a United Airlines customer service representative at the airport, pleaded not guilty to grand theft and second-degree burglary charges Friday, according to the San Mateo County district attorney's office.

His wife, Raychas Thomas, 32, is scheduled to be arraigned Aug. 26. Crudup and Thomas were arrested after victims who were supposed to fly into SFO on July 8 were diverted because of the plane crash on July 6, according to prosecutors.

The runway where the crash occurred was closed for nearly a week after the incident, which left three dead and injured 180 passengers and crewmembers. During the shutdown there were hundreds of canceled flights and lengthy delays in and out of the airport.

The victims' luggage had not been diverted and arrived at SFO. When the victims went to pick up their bags they found they were missing, according to prosecutors. Surveillance footage allegedly showed Crudup taking the bags and giving them to his wife and another woman.

Allegedly Thomas took clothing from the bags to a Nordstrom store in Pleasanton and got $5,000 for the items. Thomas and Crudup were both arrested July 25 at SFO when Thomas was catching a flight to Hawaii.

In a search of Crudup's and Thomas' Richmond home, more stolen items from the victims' bags were allegedly found, prosecutors said. Crudup is set to be return to court on Thursday. He is out of custody on $75,000 bail, while Thomas posted $50,000 bail.

SFO Issuing Citizen's Arrests to Rideshare Drivers Dropping Off, Picking Up Passengers

In the past month, San Francisco International Airport officials have been citing and arresting drivers from mobile-app enabled rideshare companies that pick up and drop off passengers, an airport spokesman said.

Airport spokesman Doug Yakel said there have been seven citizen arrests issued to "various offenders" since July 10. The airport had issued cease and desist letters to several rideshare companies, including Lyft, Sidecar and Uber, in April.

Since then, Yakel said airport officials, in conjunction with airport police, had been "admonishing" drivers that came to the airport. Yakel said the companies are not permitted to offer their services at SFO and they are now being arrested for unlawful trespassing.

The state Public Utilities Commission, which regulates and licenses passenger carriers, has been looking into how to regulate these new types of companies. An evaluation of ridesharing services will come to the commission sometime this week after being mulled since the beginning of the year, CPUC spokesman Chris Chow said.

Taxi drivers are holding a noon rally at San Francisco City Hall today to "keep taxis regulated and safe" and are calling for the end of ridesharing services. The taxi group, comprised of members from the San Francisco Cab Drivers Association and the United Taxicab Workers of San Francisco, are demanding that city officials and regulatory agencies consider rideshare companies as illegal taxi services.

The protesters claim that the drivers are exempt from regulation, vehicle inspections, and insurance and driver requirements. They are calling the growing practice a "clear public safety hazard."

Dean Clark, a former taxi driver for nearly a decade, said authorities should not be targeting the rideshare drivers, but the companies. He said the drivers are simply offering rides to people for a donation, and that unlike what the taxi industry claims, many of the drivers are working students, semi-retired people and single parents.

Clark said the pick-up area is taxi domain because there is a pick-up fee, and rideshare drivers know and respect that. He said rideshare drivers should be allowed to drop off customers at the airport without being "harassed" by airport officials.

Representatives from Lyft and Sidecar were not available Monday afternoon and an Uber representative declined comment.

Woman Whose House Was Badly Damaged in 2010 East Palo Plane Crash Settles

A day care center operator whose home was badly damaged in the crash of a small private plane in East Palo Alto in 2010 has settled a lawsuit she filed against the deceased pilot's estate and his employer.

Lisa Jones and six other family members and employees filed the lawsuit against the estate of Douglas Bourn and Palo Alto-based Tesla Motors Inc. in Santa Clara County Superior Court in 2010.

The settlement was recorded in the court's docket on July 3. It averted a trial that had been scheduled for July 8. Jones' lawyer, Charles Eshoo, and Tesla's lawyer, Timothy Ryan, could not be reached for comment.

Donald Honigman, a lawyer for Bourn's estate, said, "The docket speaks for itself," but said he could not comment on any details of that settlement or three other lawsuits that have been settled.

Jones' family house on Beech Street was partly destroyed when it was hit by a wing of a Cessna 310 piloted by Bourn as that plane crashed on the morning of Feb. 17, 2010.

Jones had operated a day care center, Eppie's Day Care, in an adjacent building. Bourn, 56, of Santa Clara, a senior electrical engineer with Tesla Motors, and passengers Brian Finn, 42, of East Palo Alto, and Andrew Ingram, 31, of Palo Alto, who also worked for the electric car maker, were all killed in the crash.

The Cessna had taken off from Palo Alto Municipal Airport in heavy fog when it struck PG&E power lines and an electric tower at an altitude of about 50 feet at 7:54 a.m. and crashed.

A National Transportation Safety Board report concluded in 2011 that the likely cause was the pilot's error in failing to follow instructions for a standard instrument departure and failing to attain sufficient altitude to clear the power lines. The report said there was near-zero visibility at the airport at the time and Bourn was told by a flight controller that if he took off, it was at his own risk.

The three men were on their way to a business meeting in Hawthorne, Calif. The three previously settled lawsuits were filed in San Mateo County Superior Court against Bourn's estate and Air Unique Inc., a company that Bourn operated and that owned the Cessna.

The suits were filed by Ingram's parents, by Finn's ex-wife and child, and by East Palo Alto residents Ervin and Pinkie Hudleton, whose carport and car were damaged in the crash. Still pending in San Mateo County Superior Court is a lawsuit filed against Bourn's estate and Air Unique by another neighbor, Jose Cortez-Herrera, and his wife, daughter and two granddaughters, who say the bulk of the plane came to rest in front of their home.

They say the house was damaged and they suffered emotional distress. In addition, the lawsuit alleges, the two grandparents and two granddaughters, then 3 and 6 years old, were injured as they sought to escape from the crash by going over a six-foot slat fence from their backyard into a neighbor's yard, while the girls' mother was trapped in her room.

That lawsuit is scheduled for a settlement conference on Nov. 13 and a jury trial on Dec. 2, according to the court's docket.

Man Arrested, Four Sought in Tenderloin Stabbing

A 20-year-old man was arrested and four others are being sought for a stabbing that seriously injured a man in San Francisco's Tenderloin neighborhood early Monday morning, a police spokesman said.

Gonnoi Posada was arrested after the stabbing, which was reported at 2:36 a.m. in the 600 block of Eddy Street, police spokesman Officer Albie Esparza said. Police said it appears the 49-year-old victim got into an altercation with Posada and the four other suspects and was stabbed in the chest by one of them.

The victim was taken to San Francisco General Hospital to be treated for his injuries, which are considered life-threatening, police said. The suspects fled in various directions but Posada was taken into custody by responding officers and booked into jail on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon, Esparza said.

The other four suspects remained at large as of Monday afternoon and were described only as Hispanic males, one of whom was wearing a black hat, Esparza said.

Anyone with information about the stabbing is encouraged to call the Police Department's anonymous tip line at (415) 575-4444 or send a tip by text message to TIP411 with "SFPD" in the message.

Weather Forecast

Mostly cloudy skies and patchy fog are expected in the Bay Area this morning.

Highs are likely to be in the 50s to mid 60s, with westerly winds up to 20 mph. Mostly cloudy skies are expected this evening, with patchy fog after midnight.

Lows are likely to be in the mid 50s, with westerly winds up to 20 mph.

Cloudy skies and patchy fog are likely Wednesday morning. Highs are expected to be in the 50s to mid 60s, with westerly winds up to 20 mph.

 

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Man Critically Injured in Western Addition Attack

A man was critically injured in an attack in San Francisco's Western Addition neighborhood on Monday morning, police said today.

The attack was reported around 6:30 a.m. near Gough Street and Golden Gate Avenue, police spokesman Officer Gordon Shyy said.

A car pulled up to the victim, a man in his 40s, and multiple suspects got out, according to police.

Investigators were told by a third party that the victim told the suspects that they robbed his sister, then at least one suspect struck him in the head with some sort of bottle, Shyy said.

The victim was taken to San Francisco General Hospital to be treated for head trauma. His wounds are considered life-threatening, and police have not been able to talk to him to find out more about the attack, Shyy said.

The suspects fled and had not been found as of this morning. Anyone with information about the attack is asked to call the Police Department's anonymous tip line at (415) 575-4444 or send a tip by text message to TIP411 with "SFPD" in the message.

 

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Marijuana Grow Operation Uncovered During House Fire

Firefighters battled a two-alarm fire at the site of a marijuana grow operation at a residence in San Francisco's Visitacion Valley early this morning, according to a fire dispatcher.

The fire, located in the 100 block of Tucker Avenue near John McLaren Park, was reported at 12:45 a.m.

Firefighters brought the fire under control at 1:17 a.m. No injuries were reported and the cause of the fire remains under investigation this morning.

 

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Firefighters Battle 2-Alarm House Fire in Visitacion Valley

Firefighters are battling a two-alarm fire at a residence in San Francisco's Visitacion Valley, according to a fire dispatcher.

The fire, located in the 100 block of Tucker Avenue near John McLaren Park, was reported at 12:45 a.m.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

 

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Police Investigating Stabbing in Tenderloin, Suspect at Large

One person was hospitalized after being stabbed this morning and in San Francisco's Tenderloin District and the suspect remains at large, police said.

Officers responded to a report of a stabbing in the area of Eddy and Larkin streets at about 2:30 a.m., police said.

When officers arrived, they found a male victim suffering from stab wounds, and transported him to a hospital, according to police.

The extent of his injuries is unknown. No arrests have been made. The stabbing was the city's fourth in two days. Three stabbings occurred within hours of each other Sunday morning.

 

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BART Trains Experiencing Delays Out of Richmond Station This Morning

An ongoing power issue at the Richmond yard near BART's Richmond station is delaying trains roughly 10 minutes this morning, a BART employee said.

Trains heading in the Fremont and San Francisco directions are experiencing the delays, the employee said.

When all the trains exit the station, the delays will subside, he said. He was not sure when all the trains will be out of the station.

 

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San Francisco Bay Area Monday Morning News Roundup

 

Police Search for Richmond Shooting Suspects

San Francisco police are searching for at least two suspects in a Richmond District shooting that left one victim with life-threatening injuries Sunday evening.

The victim in the shooting was involved in an altercation with at least two male suspects that ended in a shooting just before 7 p.m., Officer Albie Esparza said.

No arrests have been made. The suspects fled the scene in a vehicle, but police do not yet have a description of the vehicle or suspects.

Woman Found Dead in Motel

A woman was found shot dead in a Salinas motel Sunday morning after an explosion was heard coming from the room, according to police.

Officers were called to the Willow Lodge at 719 S. Main Street shortly before 8 a.m. on a report of a gunshot, explosion and possible fire in one of the rooms, according to Commander Vincent Maiorana.

Police and firefighters found that a fire had been set inside a motel room and evidence of a small explosion. The fire was small and quickly extinguished, but a dead woman was found in the room, Maiorana said.

The woman appears to have been shot and the death is being investigated as a homicide, Maiorana said.

Man Shoots Home Depot Security Guard

A suspect allegedly shot one security guard and pistol-whipped another at a Hayward Home Depot store Sunday afternoon when they tried to stop him from stealing a cart full of tools, according to police.

The security guards spotted the suspect allegedly trying to steal the tools shortly before 12:30 p.m. just outside the store's garden center, according to Sgt. Ray Sisson.

When they tried to take him into custody, however, the suspect struggled with the guards and then pulled out a handgun, Sisson said.

The suspect allegedly shot one security guard in the right shoulder and hit the second one on the left side of the head.

He was last seen running east through the parking lot toward Hesperian Boulevard, then north toward Togo's, Sisson said.

Both security guards will recover from their injuries, Sisson said. The suspect was described as a white or Hispanic male adult, 30 to 40 years old and 6 feet tall with short, grayish hair in a short ponytail.

He was last seen wearing denim shorts extending to mid-calf, an orange t-shirt, a gray sweatshirt and white socks pulled up to his knees with a dark-colored baseball hat.

However, police located discarded items behind the nearby Worlds Fare Donuts during a search of the area after the incident.

Multi-Vehicle Collision On Highway 37

Two children and three adults were injured in a multi-vehicle collision on state Highway 37 near the Sonoma Raceway Sunday afternoon, according to the California Highway Patrol.

A 2-year-old boy and a 16-year-old boy were transported by helicopter with serious injuries from the crash, which occurred around 3:40 p.m. between Lakeville Highway and state Highway 121, CHP officials said.

Two drivers and a passenger from other vehicles involved in the crash were also transported by ground ambulance with various injuries.

The crash occurred when an eastbound 2010 Toyota Yaris driven by 53-year-old Los Gatos resident Erinn Richards struck an eastbound 2004 Nissan Sentra that had stopped in traffic.

The Nissan, driven by 23-year-old Vallejo resident Alejandro Rangel, had come to a stop behind an eastbound 2013 Toyota Camry, driven by 66-year-old Sandra Arendell of Grass Valley, that was stuck in heavy traffic.

When the Yaris struck the Sentra, the Sentra in turn was pushed into the Camry in a chain reaction, the CHP said.

The collision was forceful enough to cause the Camry to spin around and come to rest blocking both lanes of traffic.

Richard and Rangel were among those transported with injuries by ground ambulance.

Traffic was able to flow past the scene of the crash using the wide center divider section, according to the CHP. The scene was cleared around 5 p.m.

Police Search for Stabbing Suspects

San Francisco police are searching for suspects in several stabbings that took place early Sunday morning.

The first stabbing occurred at Mission and Cesar Chavez streets around 12:45 a.m., when two men got into an argument that turned into a fight, according to Officer Albie Esparza.

The suspect, described only as a Hispanic male around 45 years old, slashed the victim in the abdomen and fled the scene, Esparza said.

The victim was taken to San Francisco General Hospital with non-life threatening injuries, Esparza said.

A second stabbing occurred in the Mission District around 1:40 a.m. on the 3000 block of 16th Street.

The victim was talking to a security guard outside when he was approached by the suspect, described as a male aged around 20 to 25.

The suspect allegedly punched the victim, causing the victim to flee. It was only after he left the area, however, that the victim realized that he had been stabbed in the back, Esparza said.

The victim drove himself to the hospital and is being treated for non-life threatening injuries.

The last and most serious stabbings occurred on the first block of Stillman Street near Third Street, near South Park, Esparza said.

Five suspects, all described as Hispanic males around 23 to 24 years old, first approached a single victim who was waiting for friends in a parking lot.

They allegedly beat that victim unconscious, before walking up Stillman and encountering two additional victims.

One suspect allegedly stabbed a victim and took his necklace, and the other victim was slashed on the wrist during the robbery, Esparza said.

Some of the injuries sustained in the South Park-area attack were life-threatening, Esparza said.

The suspects fled in an unknown direction in that attack, and no arrests have been made.

San Francisco police are asking anyone with information on these attacks or suspects to contact them immediately.

Santa Rosa Officers Assaulted 

Two Santa Rosa police officers were hospitalized after being assaulted during a traffic stop Saturday night, a police sergeant said.

An officer conducted a traffic stop in the 500 block of South E Street at about 9:50 p.m., Sgt. David Linscomb said.

The driver, 34-year-old Korynn Stewart, of Santa Rosa, appeared to be intoxicated, Linscomb said.

Stewart was put into handcuffs, and then the passenger in her car, 32-year-old Joseph Michael Simmons, of Santa Rosa, got out and confronted the officer and his partner, according to Linscomb.

Linscomb said a fight ensued, and Simmons broke free at one point. Steward kicked one of the officers in the face, he said.

The officers ultimately took out their batons and Tasers to try and bring the suspects into custody, he said.

Additional officers arrived and helped bring Stewart and Simmons into custody. Simmons, Stewart and the officer kicked by Simmons were all transported to a hospital by ambulance.

The other officer was taken by another officer to a hospital, Linscomb said. One officer suffered "significant injuries" to the legs, arm, face and head.

The other officer in the fight suffered minor injuries, he said. Everyone involved in the fight is expected to survive, Linscomb said.

The two officers and Stewart were released from the hospital, while Simmons remains there Sunday morning for additional treatment, Linscomb said.

Simmons will be booked into jail on suspicion of felony assault on a police officer. Stewart will be booked for felony resisting a police officer and DUI.

Policeman Crashes Car Into Tree

A San Jose police officer was injured when he crashed a patrol car into a tree on Saturday night.

At about 8:15 p.m., the officer spotted a known parolee with an active arrest warrant for narcotics who was driving near South 11th and East Santa Clara streets, San Jose police Sgt Jason Dwyer said.

The officer initiated a pursuit into the 100 block of South 11th Street, where the suspect pulled over and fled on foot, Dwyer said.

The police officer lost control of his vehicle and crashed into a palm tree during the chase, and the suspect got away, Dwyer said.

The officer was taken to Regional Medical Center to be treated for a concussion and back pain, Dwyer said. He was later released.

A house-to-house search for the suspect yielded no results, and an investigation into his whereabouts is ongoing.

President Honors San Francisco Giants

The San Francisco Giants will be in Washington, D.C. today to be honored at the White House by President Obama.

The President is recognizing the Giants for winning the 2012 World Series Championship as well as for the team's ongoing commitment to various causes in the community.

The Junior Giants program and an anti-bullying campaign are among the Giants' notable community efforts. The White House ceremony is scheduled to begin at 11:05 a.m. PST.

Car Crash Victim Identified

A woman who was killed Sunday in an early morning crash in San Leandro has been identified as 57-year-old Lomia Faumuina, according to the Alameda County coroner's bureau.

Faumuina was the passenger in a vehicle that was struck head on in the 14500 block of Washington Boulevard at about 2:30 a.m., according to San Leandro police.

An officer had reported seeing a vehicle traveling at speeds up to 100 mph before hitting the victim's vehicle, police said.

Faumuina was pronounced dead at the scene. The suspect's vehicle lit on fire after the driver was pulled out by first responders, police said.

The drivers of both vehicles were hospitalized and reported to be in serious condition. It was unknown if alcohol or drugs were factors in the crash, which remains under investigation by San Leandro police.

Bay Area Weather Report

Mostly cloudy skies, patchy fog and drizzle are expected in the Bay Area this morning.

Highs are likely to be in the mid 50s to lower 60s, with southwest winds up to 20 mph. Mostly cloudy skies are expected this evening, with patchy fog and drizzle after midnight.

Lows are likely to be in the mid 50s, with southwest winds up to 20 mph. Mostly cloudy skies, patchy fog and drizzle are likely Monday morning. Highs are expected to be in the 50s to mid 60s, with southwest winds up to 15 mph.

 

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Suspected Ring Leader In Series of Retail Thefts Arrested

A San Francisco man who allegedly led a ring of thieves who targeted stores in several Bay Area shopping centers this spring is facing burglary and robbery charges, Pleasanton police said this week.

Between March and May, an organized group of thieves targeted the Victoria's Secret store at the Stoneridge Mall in Pleasanton several times, according to Detective Brandon Stocking.

The thieves would enter the store in groups of three to 10 people carrying empty bags, remove large amounts of merchandise from the shelves and then flee before security could arrive, Stocking said.

Investigators determined the same group was also raiding stores in Livermore, Newark and Milpitas as well as other high-end retailers around the Bay Area.

The group is thought to have taken more than $100,000 worth of goods during a few-month period.

Working with other cities, detectives identified San Francisco resident R'Mani Minard as the suspected ringleader of the group and obtained warrants for his arrest, Stocking said.

Minard was located and arrested in Los Angeles and returned to the Bay Area for prosecution Thursday.

He faces 13 felony counts of commercial burglary and one count of felony robbery in connection with an incident in which he was allegedly involved in a physical altercation with a Victoria's Secret employee over merchandise, Stocking said.

No one was injured in any of the thefts. Minard is expected to face additional charges from other agencies, Stocking said.

Investigators are still working to identify and locate other suspects involved in the thefts.

Anyone with information on this investigation is asked to call Pleasanton police at (925) 931-5100

 

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$5K Reward Offered for Information About Missing 19-Year-Old

The family of a teenager who went missing more than two months ago in San Francisco has announced a $5,000 reward.

Sean Sidi, 19, was last seen in San Francisco on May 21. His family has said he is considered at-risk because he recently suffered a traumatic brain injury.

He does not have his medication with him, and family members are concerned he may be disoriented and confused.

The family hopes the $5,000 reward offered earlier this month is an incentive for people to provide more information about Sidi's whereabouts.

According to his family, hours before he disappeared Sean had visited his former high school at 150 Oak St. in San Francisco.

Sidi's last cellphone call was to his father, Claude Sidi, and made around 1:30 p.m. the day he went missing. It has been traced back to Golden Gate Park.

Because of that information, several searches have since been focused at or near Golden Gate Park.

The family has also set up a donation website to help them raise money for the continued investigation and for more fliers, signs and other ways to keep the search visible.

The family has hired a private investigator to work alongside San Francisco police. Donations can be made online at donationto.com/searchforseansidi.

The family hopes to raise $40,000. As of mid-morning today, $ 27,811 had been donated.

Sidi is described as a slender man of mixed Caucasian and Asian descent, with dark brown hair and eyes and braces on his teeth.

He is 5 feet 5 inches tall and weighs 120 pounds. He was last seen wearing a black and gray North Face hooded rain jacket, jeans and black canvas shoes.

He recently came out of an arm cast and was wearing a black splint on his left wrist and arm.

Anyone with information on his whereabouts is asked to call San Francisco police Sgt. Ann MacKenzie at (415) 734-3268 or go to www.seansidi.com.

 

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Outside Lands Musical Festival Tickets Sold Out

Those planning on purchasing tickets to the Outside Lands Music & Arts Festival in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park will have to look elsewhere now that all tickets have sold out.

Last week general admission for three-day and single-day passes were all taken, and as of earlier this week even the VIP tickets were unavailable.

The festival runs from Aug. 9 through 11. Tickets were priced between about $100 to $545 for some packages.

Since selling out, demand on ticket sites such as Craigslist and StubHub has gone up, with some one-day passes offered for up to $195 for general admission.

This year's line up includes headliners Paul McCartney, Nine Inch Nails, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Phoenix.

More information about the show is available at www.sfoutsidelands.com.

 

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Paid for by Phil Ting for Assembly 2012. FPPC ID# 1343137