Barry Bonds Asks Judge for Retrial to Begin by 3rd Week of July
Home-run champion Barry Bonds asked a federal judge in San Francisco Wednesday to order his retrial on three deadlocked perjury counts to begin by the third week of July, if he is retried at all.
Bonds' lawyers said in a filing submitted to U.S. District Judge Susan Illston that the U.S. Speedy Trial Act requires his retrial to start within a month.
They said prosecutors should be required to say at a hearing before Illston on today whether they do plan to try Bonds a second time on three counts on which a jury deadlocked in April.
"If the government is to retry Mr. Bonds, it must do so within the time provided by the act," defense attorney Dennis Riordan wrote.
"Mr. Bonds is entitled to be informed at tomorrow's status conference whether the government intends to retry him on the mistried counts," Riordan said in the filing. Bonds, 46, is accused of lying to a federal grand jury in 2003 when he denied knowingly have taken steroids or human growth hormone or having received any kind of injection from his trainer, Greg Anderson.
The panel was investigating the distribution of anabolic steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs by the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative, or BALCO. In a trial in Illston's court that ended April 13, the jury deadlocked on three charges that Bonds made false statements in his 2003 testimony.
Jurors convicted him on a fourth count of obstructing justice by giving evasive testimony.
Prosecutors have thus far not said whether they will seek a retrial on the false-statements counts. In a filing Tuesday, they asked Illston to delay any consideration of a new trial date until at least late August, after she rules on a separate challenge by Bonds to the obstruction-of-justice conviction.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Parrella wrote, "The parties will be in a far better position to provide meaningful information to the court regarding the scheduling of the pending counts that remain in this case once the defendant's motions have been heard and resolved."
But in Wednesday's response, the defense attorneys said the two matters are separate and argued there is no legal basis for delaying a retrial.
Alameda City Council Maintains Fire Department's Pay Level, Despite Community Protests
The Alameda City Council Tuesday night approved a contract with the fire department that maintains current levels of pay, despite some public protestations that the firefighters deserve salary reductions for failing to intervene in the death of a suicidal man.
The department has been under scrutiny since Memorial Day, when rescuers stood by as 52-year-old Raymond Zack drowned himself at Crown Beach, but City Council members argued the contract negotiations started long before the incident and should be considered separately from Zack's death.
The council voted 4-1 to adopt a memorandum of understanding with the International Association of Firefighters, Local 689, that changes benefits and pension packages but does not impact salary from 2010 to 2013. Councilman Doug DeHaan was the dissenting vote.
The contract negotiations began in 2009, and pay reductions were never on the table, Mayor Marie Gilmore said. She emphasized that the contract was the result of a negotiation process, and that reopening the discussion might result in even fewer concessions.
"The City Council has no power to impose pay cuts," she said. "If you want a 5 or 10 percent pay cut, the way to do that is to cut bodies."
She also said the agreement means that the fire department's employees will not have had a pay raise in six years by the time the contract expires.
"You have to start somewhere, and that's what this negotiation is," she said. "The unions understand that we will be back because they have no interest in watching their employer go bankrupt."
A flood of irate citizens signed up to speak before the decision, asking the City Council to either reject the memorandum of understanding or postpone a vote until the public had more time to weigh in on it.
Some argued that the city and firefighters had been without a contract for 18 months and could wait a little longer, but City Manager John Russo said the council needed to act quickly to prove they were negotiating in good faith, thereby avoiding potential lawsuits.
SJ Declares Fiscal, Public Safety Emergency to Alter Public Contracts
San Jose's declaration of a fiscal and public safety emergency raises serious concerns, according to a letter released earlier this week by the office of Attorney General Kamala Harris.
Harris' letter was in response to a joint letter by Democratic state Assemblymen Paul Fong, Rich Gordon, Bob Wieckowski and Luis Alejo.
The assemblymen had asked Harris to investigate the city's declaration of a fiscal and public safety emergency as unwarranted and a misuse of state law.
The attorney general's letter states that only a cursory review was conducted, but nevertheless, "it appears that declaring a 'state of emergency' based on a financial crisis in order to justify the unilateral alteration of public contracts would be an extraordinary maneuver."
The letter states, "Financial problems faced by government must be resolved lawfully. To do otherwise would be irresponsible."
Mayor Chuck Reed announced the proposal in May, saying that it would rein in retirement costs and help the city avoid further cuts to services and the loss of hundreds of jobs.
Supporting Reed were Vice Mayor Madison Nguyen and Council members Sam Liccardo and Rose Herrera.
However, the proposal received vehement opposition from city employees and state representatives. Among them was Wisconsin state Sen. Spencer Coggs, one of 14 Democratic senators who left Wisconsin to protest Republican Gov. Scott Walker's proposal to end collective bargaining for workers.
Reed has said retirement costs are "skyrocketing" and contributing to the city's deficit, forcing the city to lay off hundreds of workers, including police officers and firefighters.
Retirement costs are projected to rise to $400 million by 2016, and could be closer to $650 million after actuarial adjustments.
Reed's proposal calls for setting limits on retirement benefits for new and current employees and retirees, but because the recommendations require changes to the city charter, they would have to win approval by voters.
Religious, Community Groups File Lawsuit to Keep Circumcision Ban of Ballot
Opponents of a proposal to criminalize male circumcision in San Francisco filed a lawsuit Wednesday asking for the measure to be removed from the November ballot.
Proponents of the circumcision ban submitted more than 12,000 signatures to the city's Department of Elections in April to get the measure on the ballot. It needed a minimum of 7,168 to qualify.
The organizer of the campaign, Lloyd Schofield, has said he believes male circumcision is wrong and likened it to female circumcision practices that are already banned in the U.S.
The proposal would punish people who circumcise a minor with a fine of up to $1,000 or up to a year in jail.
Religious and community groups and various doctors joined together to file the lawsuit in San Francisco Superior Court Wednesday.
The lawsuit is calling on the state's Department of Elections to remove the proposition from the ballot on the grounds that San Francisco would have no power to enact the ordinance since only the state can make rules about medical procedures, according to Abby Michelson Porth of the Jewish Community Relations Council, one of the groups filing the suit.
"Physicians are concerned this measure would make them criminals" for performing procedures that "patients request and consent to," Michelson Porth said.
The opponents of the ban, which also include the Anti-Defamation League, say along with the protections under state law, the decision to circumcise boys for religious reasons is also protected under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
The opponents are asking for a hearing on the case to be held relatively soon, on July 15, since the city's Department of Elections has to begin preparations for putting measures on the ballot in August.
"Our intention is to have this resolved before that happens," Michelson Porth said.
Missing Nursing Student Michelle Le's Family Hires Private Investigator
The family of nursing student Michelle Le, who has been missing for more than three weeks, has hired a private investigator, a family spokeswoman said.
Le's family has been working with Hayward police and the FBI to find Le, 26, who went missing on May 27 during a break from her clinical rotation at Kaiser Permanente Hayward Medical Center on Sleepy Hollow Avenue.
Police have since classified Le's case as a homicide, while the family remains hopeful she will be found. Private investigator Michael Frame said he was hired on Monday to conduct a "parallel and independent" investigation. The investigator is working separately from Hayward police and FBI investigators, Le's cousin and family spokeswoman Krystine Dinh said.
"The goal is to get that one person out there that knows something to come forward," she said. Frame said the Le family has "full confidence in Hayward police," but the private investigating group will provide an alternate venue for people to call. "The fact of the matter is people just won't call the police," Frame said.
The private investigation is intended to supplement the police department's case, he said. Hayward police Lt. Roger Keener said Le's family conferred with police officials before hiring Frame.
"We wholeheartedly support them in this venture," he said.
"The reality is that some people, for a multitude of reasons, are simply uncomfortable talking to police."
A $65,000 reward is still available for anyone with information leading to Le's whereabouts, Frame said. To share information with the private firm, people can contact the investigator at (925) 837-8309 ext. 33 or email Michael@TheFrameGroup.com. Anonymous emails can be sent through the website at www.TheFrameGroup.com. A three-day search for Le took place last weekend in Hayward and another search is planned for Saturday. From 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. volunteers over 18 years old can meet at the command center at 23350 Cypress Ave. in Hayward to help search for Le, Dinh said. Volunteers on Saturday will search new areas that are near where people looked for Le last week, she said.
Marin Community Foundation Awards $6M to Close Educational Achievement Gap
The Marin Community Foundation announced Wednesday it has awarded $6 million in education grants to help low-income students and students of color achieve academic success.
The grants are made under the Foundation's five-year strategic initiative to close the educational achievement gap in Marin County, Foundation spokesman Fred Silverman said.
The grant funding focused on the San Rafael, Novato Unified, Sausalito Marin City and Shoreline Unified school districts that are attended by large numbers of low-income students and people of color, Silverman said.
Approximately $3 million will support scholarships and 16 programs that increase the number of students who attend college by helping them participate in afterschool academic and social programs.
The college readiness efforts will help students improve their study skills, prepare for tests, receive counseling, develop social leadership skills and learn about college admissions and selection processes.
The largest grant recipient is the 10,000 Degrees program, which received $1.8 million, for financial aid scholarships. Marin Community Foundation President and CEO Thomas Peters said students often fall through the cracks if they do not get the extra help with their studies that can make a difference between dropping out and thriving.
"This is a missed opportunity for these students, their families and the community as a whole, so we're determined to help fill that void," Peters said.
More than $2 million will go toward early education programs in preschool through third grade in the Shoreline Unified, Novato Unified, San Rafael City Schools and Sausalito Marin City school districts.
Peters said successful early education efforts focus on involving families in their children's education, enhancing teacher training, ensuring smooth transitions between grades and using data to identify the specific needs of each student.
"It's increasingly clear that helping kids succeed in their earliest years of school can have an impact in later grades -- and even beyond. And it starts in preschool, where children acquire the skills to thrive in kindergarten," Peters said.
SJSU Fraternity Fire Was Not Arson, SJFD Continues Investigation
San Jose fire investigators were not able to determine the cause of a blaze that destroyed a fraternity house near San Jose State University on Tuesday, but they have ruled out arson, a fire spokeswoman said Wednesday.
The five-alarm fire at the Kappa Sigma fraternity house, located at 168 S. 11th St., caused an estimated $1.7 million in damage and displaced 28 students. Residents were stirred awake around 3:20 a.m. by sounds of screaming and the smell of smoke. San Jose fire Capt.
Mary Gutierrez said firefighters entered the home and battled the blaze from inside for about 45 minutes. When it began to look like the building might collapse, they moved outside and fought the fire defensively.
The blaze was controlled at about 6:10 a.m. One firefighter was treated at a hospital for second-degree burns to his hands.
The second floor was badly burned, and there was severe water damage to the first floor, Gutierrez said.
The damage was so extensive that it was hard to determine the origin of the fire, Gutierrez said, although some students had reported the blaze started in the laundry room.
She said the fire department has completed its investigation into the fire and determined it was not arson.
The university alumnus who owns the fraternity house can hire a private investigator or have the insurance company conduct a separate investigation, Gutierrez said.
All of the fraternity members managed to escape safely, but a number left behind valuable belongings.
The American Red Cross provided assistance, and neighboring fraternity houses have offered temporary housing assistance to the displaced residents. San Jose State University officials have set up a relief fund to help them recover. To donate to the relief fund online, visit http://www.sjsu.edu/advancement/giving.
Program for Parents to Address Children's Destructive Behaviors Launched in Vietnamese
A program that teaches Santa Clara County parents how to address destructive behaviors by their children was launched in San Jose Wednesday -- this time, in Vietnamese.
The program, called the Parent Project, is a 12-week course in which specially trained facilitators teach parents strategies for preventing, identifying, and stopping harmful behavior such as running away, truancy, drug abuse, gang involvement and violence.
The Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office launched the program in 2008 in English and Spanish, and is now offering it in Vietnamese for the first time.
Tuition for the class is $120, with limited scholarships available. Those interested in learning more about the program can call Mai Doan at (408) 347-5239. Spanish speakers may call Gloria Maturino at (408) 808-3794.
Architects, Engineers Compete to Create Canned Food Sculptures
Canned food is being seen in a new light Wednesday as some of San Francisco's top architects and engineers present unique pieces of art -- made entirely of canned goods -- to a panel of celebrity judges.
More than 50,000 cans were used to create designs and sculptures as part of the "canstruction" competition, hosted by the San Francisco Food bank.
All of the cans will be donated to the food bank afterward, organizers said. Olympic champion figure skater Brian Boitano and Corey Lee, owner and chef of Benu restaurant, will be among the judges.
The theme of this year's competition is "The Spirit of San Francisco," and all 13 can sculptures will be on display to the public today at the Metreon's City View.
One of the entries depicts San Francisco Giants pitcher Brian Wilson's famed beard; another is in the shape of a cable car.
The exhibit is free of charge and visitors are urged to bring a can of food to donate to the food bank. The large quantity of donated canned goods from this event will be put to good use at the city's food bank, which has seen a 32 percent increase in demand for food assistance this year, according to organizers.
San Mateo Supes Vote to Keep Flood Park Open - Temporarily
The San Mateo County Board of Supervisors Wednesday afternoon approved a plan that will temporarily keep Flood Park open through the beginning of next year.
The popular 21-acre public space off Bay Road in Menlo Park had been slated for closure in March, when the county indicated it would have to keep Flood Park closed to save about $200,000 in annual maintenance fees.
The park is currently closed to accommodate the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, which is replacing a water supply pipeline through the area as part of its $4.6 billion project to rebuild the Hetchy Hetchy Regional Water System.
The project is expected to keep the park closed until September, when the county's budget had included a proposal to make the closure permanent to cut costs.
A well-organized community reaction led to the formation of Friends of Flood Park and Save Flood Park, two groups that engaged residents, Menlo Park city officials, county supervisors and department heads in an effort to keep the park open.
During a third day of budget hearings, supervisors Wednesday agreed on a plan that will restore approximately $155,000 to the Department of Public Works, which will use the funds to reopen Flood Park when the SFPUC's construction project has been completed.
"We have anticipated keeping Flood Park open for six months with the bridge money we've received," public works director Jim Porter said.
The department will be able to keep the park open through March 31, 2012, during which time the county can work with residents and Menlo Park officials toward a solution that would permanently avert any type of closure, Porter said. Board president Carole Groom said that closing Flood Park was not an option. "Some way or another, we have to keep it open," Groom said.
Motorcyclist Injured in Hit-and-Run on I-880
A motorcyclist was injured in a hit-and-run accident on Interstate Highway 880 in Hayward Wednesday morning, a California Highway Patrol spokesman said.
The crash was reported just before 8 a.m. on southbound I-880 south of Tennyson Road. CHP Officer R. Crawford said the motorcyclist told investigators that a white Dodge Neon or similar vehicle cut him off, causing him to crash.
The motorcyclist was briefly knocked out but regained consciousness when CHP officers arrived. Hayward fire Capt. Thor Poulsen said the motorcyclist suffered chest injuries and possible head injuries and was taken to Eden Medical Center for treatment.
Poulsen said that less than 15 minutes after that accident, there was another crash on southbound I-880 near the Interstate Highway 238 interchange.
Three vehicles were involved in that crash, and one person was transported to a hospital.
The crashes snarled traffic on both sides of the highway as northbound motorists slowed to catch a glimpse of the activity on the southbound side, he said.