Hunters Point Shooting Victim Dies
One of two people shot at a bus stop in San Francisco's Hunters Point neighborhood Monday afternoon has died, police said.
A male and female victim were shot around 1 p.m. while at a bus stop at West Point and Middle Point roads, police said.
Both were taken to San Francisco General Hospital where the male victim succumbed to his injuries, police said.
The female victim is being treated for injuries considered life-threatening, police said. No suspect information was immediately available.
Federal Judge Approves Settlement for 2010 Protest Related to Shooting of Oscar Grant
A federal judge has given preliminary approval to a $1 million settlement in a lawsuitm filed against the city of Oakland and Alameda County on behalf of 150 people who were arrested during a 2010 protest related to the fatal shooting of Oscar Grant III.
U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson of San Francisco tentatively approved the settlement in a June 13 order and will hold a final approval hearing on Sept. 9.
The people were arrested during a march protesting the sentencing of former BART officer Johannes Mehserle, who fatally shot Grant, 22, of Hayward, at the Fruitvale BART station in Oakland early on New Year's Day in 2009.
Mehserle was convicted of involuntary manslaughter and was sentenced in November 2010 to two years in prison. He was given credit for time served and was released in June 2011.
The civil rights lawsuit was filed in 2011 by four protesters as a class action on behalf of the approximately 150 marchers arrested during a demonstration on Nov. 5, 2010.
Under the agreement, the four named plaintiffs will each receive $9,000; other class members who file approved claims will be given an estimated $4,500 to $5,000 each; and attorneys working with the National Lawyers Guild will be awarded $350,000 for fees and costs.
In a court filing, both sides told the judge, "It is undisputed that the 150 class members were not given an order or opportunity to disperse before being penned in by police lines in the residential Oakland East Lake neighborhood, and arrested."
The protesters were placed in sheriff's office custody for 14 to 24 hours, and were held on buses and then in a county jail holding area before being released, according to the filing.
One of the plaintiffs, National Lawyers Guild legal observer Dan Spalding, said in a statement, "We were never given a warning or a chance to leave.
"I tried to tell the officers that I was a legal observer, but they handcuffed me and put me on a sheriff's bus," Spalding said.
Spalding said protesters were handcuffed and left sitting on the street and in buses for about eight hours without bathroom access.
A spokesman for Oakland City Attorney Barbara Parker had no immediate comment.
Alameda County Counsel Donna Ziegler said the county will pay $175,000 of the settlement.
"We settled the case and we're happy to be moving forward with other issues that confront the county," she said.
The proposed settlement document says the agreement is not an admission by either side about the merits of the lawsuit's claims.
The planned settlement also includes an agreement by Oakland police and the Alameda County Sheriff's Office for expedited procedures for processing and releasing people arrested at demonstrations.
Man Struck By Muni Train Fighting For His Life
A man is fighting for his life after being hit by a San Francisco Municipal Railway train at the Civic Center station early Monday evening, police said.
The man was struck on the Muni tracks near the outbound platform at 5:17 p.m. He was taken to San Francisco General Hospital with life-threatening injuries, police said.
The collision shut down service Muni Metro service between the Civic Center and Embarcadero stations, Muni officials said. Bus shuttles were provided at the affected stations. Muni service has since recovered.
Accused Abductor Missing at Large in Antioch
The father who briefly abducted a baby girl in Antioch Monday morning remains at large after safely dropping off his daughter, according to Antioch police.
The 11-month-old girl, Justice Alasheia Benton, was allegedly abducted by her father, Joshua Elijah Benton, police said.
Antioch police said they received a report at 10:19 a.m. of shots fired in the area of Rainier and Sunset lanes, off of Davison Drive.
Arriving officers learned that Joshua Benton had allegedly taken his daughter during a domestic dispute, according to police.
Police said that as Benton was leaving, he fired one shot into the air from a handgun and got into the passenger side of a dark green Dodge Caravan-type vehicle with tinted windows.
A second person was believed to be driving the car. A license plate number was not immediately available.
Around 2 p.m. the baby was found safe after she was spotted with Benton near his residence carrying her, police said.
Family members were following behind him, and when he noticed police he handed the baby over to a family member and fled on foot, according to police.
Police searched the area but could not find him and he remains at large.
Benton is described as a 23-year-old black man with a light complexion, standing about 5 feet 8 inches tall and weighing 144 pounds. His hair is in twisted rows.
He has brown eyes and was last wearing white shorts, a blue T-shirt, flip-flops and a brown hat, according to police.
Authorities warn that Benton may be armed and dangerous and prone to violent behavior.
BART Contracts Getting Ready to Expire in Less Than Week
With less than a week to go before BART's contracts with its two largest unions expire, labor leaders and management are busy Monday holding news conferences and issuing news releases accusing each other of bargaining in bad faith.
Leaders of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555, which represents 945 station agents, train operators and foreworkers, and Service Employees International Union Local 1221, which represents 1,430 mechanics, custodians and clerical workers, fired the first shot by holding a news conference to announce that they filed a lawsuit accusing management of failing to bargain in good faith over worker safety.
BART management spokeswoman Alicia Trost responded by issuing a news release that says the worker safety allegations are "a smoke screen for the fact union leaders are refusing to bring our contracts in line with what is normal for the Bay Area and the transit industry."
The transit agency's management said it will hold its own news conference at 1:30 p.m. Monday to provide an update on contract talks, which began on April 1 but haven't been fruitful so far. Trost previously said that union leaders haven't even mentioned safety issues in their own internal communications about the labor talks, instead emphasizing matters such as salaries, benefits and work rules.
In another twist in the worker safety issues, the Alameda County District Attorney's Office Monday filed a misdemeanor charge of filing a false police report against BART station agent and union spokesman George Figueroa.
Trost said Figueroa filed a police report saying he was struck by a BART patron at an Oakland station on June 8, citing the incident as an example of the safety issues faced by BART union employees.
Trost said Figueroa took three paid days off after the alleged incident and did media interviews "acting as a BART union spokesman making broad claims about the dangers faced by BART union station agents, train drivers and other frontline union employees."
But Trost said a videotape of the alleged incident indicates that he was never struck by the BART patron.
ATU Local 1555 and SEIU Local 1021 members vote today on whether to authorize a strike.
ATU Local 1555 President Antonette Bryant said at the union news conference in front of BART headquarters Monday that the unions don't want to strike and, "We're here to get a deal."
But Bryant alleged that management is using "rubber numbers" and "inaccurate information" in contract talks and that's making it difficult for the unions to bargain fairly.
The unions' lawsuit was filed in Alameda County Superior Court Monday morning.
The suit accuses BART's elected board of directors of refusing to bargain in good faith over worker safety and engaging in other violations of state law.
Bay Bridge Photographs Displayed at City Hall
While work continues on the eastern span of the Bay Bridge, dozens of photographs that document nearly a decade of labor to build the new span are on display at City Hall starting Monday.
The series of 85 photographs captured by former boilermaker, shipfitter and welder Joseph Blum, 72, are hanging on the walls on the ground floor of City Hall, providing a glimpse of the work that has gone into the $6.3 billion project.
Starting with photos snapped in 2004 and throughout the project's progression into 2012, viewers get a sense of what it takes to scale the cables, weld large metal pieces, hang by harness from atop a tower, and work with heavy machinery -- all while donning safety equipment, gloves, goggles and hard hats, often hundreds of feet above the water.
The photographer said he hopes the series shows "the skills, stamina, determination, the courage" that the workers have and use everyday.
The color photographs catch the Bay and the growing structure on both the foggy and sunny days, and many feature the San Francisco skyline in the background.
Blum said he did not interfere with the work while getting his shots, but rather "I tried to get as close as the work as possible without endangering myself or others."
The photographs give insight into the footwork, balance, handiwork and intelligence required to build a massive structure, Blum said.
"Everyday is a challenge," he said. "It's a lot more cerebral work."
He said he wanted to document the labor process, even if that meant getting into a crane above the bridge. He said he's comfortable at a construction site and not afraid of heights.
The San Francisco Arts Commission put together the show that is on display on the ground floor of City Hall.
The exhibition was initially timed to be on display in conjunction with the anticipated Labor Day weekend opening of the bridge.
However, after faulty bolts were discovered earlier this year, that date could be pushed back.
The new section of the bridge includes a self-anchored suspension span, which covers a 2,047 feet of the bridge east of Yerba Buena Island.
An artist reception will be held at the photo exhibit on July 11 at 5:30 p.m.
The exhibit runs until Sept. 27.
Gang Violance Rises in San Jose
Several male teens assaulted another male teen Sunday in a suspected gang-related robbery attempt in East San Jose during the first weekend of an anti-gang program by San Jose police, a spokesman said Monday.
The 16-year-old male was walking with his girlfriend on Lido Avenue east of King Road at about 3:45 p.m. when four or five gang members approached, police spokesman Sgt. Jason Dwyer said.
The gang members, also in their teens, tried to rob the girl of her purse and began to assault her, Dwyer said.
When the 16-year-old, himself a suspected member of a rival gang, tried to defend her, he was cut on his head by some kind of "edge weapon," Dwyer said.
The teen's injures were not life-threatening and he received stitches on his head, Dwyer said.
The teen suspects, still unidentified, fled on foot before police arrived, he said.
"We have determined that it is gang-related," Dwyer said at a news conference about the assault. "We know the suspects made some kind of gang slur or statement to the victim. The victim we believe has gang ties as well."
"So, it's not as if these people are out there targeting people that not associated with gangs," Dwyer said.
"It was probably just a matter of somebody who was associated with a gang walking through the wrong area at the wrong time, and they targeted him for a robbery," he said.
The gang-related incident occurred two days after the San Jose Police Department announced its Violent Crime Reduction Plan to beef up enforcement and patrols in gang-heavy areas in San Jose over the summer months.
Police developed the plan in response to violence traced to gang clashes in San Jose, including eight gang-involved homicides so far this year of the 25 murders committed in San Jose in 2013.
The plan started last week with 40 to 45 new officers assigned per week all week for the rest of June in "gang suppression cars" with two officers each, increasing to 64 officers each week in July.
Officers from the SWAT and Special Operations units will also be in the mix on weekdays and weekends.
A Gang Suppression Unit debuts in August with two teams of officers deployed during hours of peak gang activity, seven days a week throughout the city.
Dwyer said that the attack on Sunday was "your prototypical kind of gang kind of crime that we're trying to prevent."
"They are grouping up in four to five people, they are taking on one or two, they are assaulting them, they are overwhelming them with numbers," Dwyer said.
"That's how gangs work," he said. "They're pack animals. They work in numbers and that's where they get their strength."
Friends of gang members, including the girlfriend of the assaulted teen gang member, may be regarded as gang associates by police, Dwyer said.
"I don't know if the girl's actually what we would call a gang member, but just the fact that she's dating somebody who's a gang member there's some nexus, some connection."
Missing Women Found Dead on State Beach
A woman who was reported missing earlier this month was found washed up on a San Mateo County beach last week, according to county sheriff's officials.
Ara Ghorgyi Ward, 48, was last seen the evening of June 12 with her boyfriend when they were at Montara State Beach, according to sheriff's officials.
Apparently the couple fell asleep and when the boyfriend woke up the next morning, Ward was gone, sheriff's officials said.
Authorities searched for Ward in the days following her disappearance until a woman's body was found on Pomponio State Beach in San Gregorio last Wednesday evening.
Around 7:15 p.m. deputies reported calls of a woman found in that area, and it is believed to be the body of Ward.
The cause of death has not yet been determined.
Ward was reportedly depressed and possibly suicidal, sheriff's officials said.
Alameda County Civil Grand Jury Issues Report Criticizing Oakland Officials
The Alameda County civil grand jury issued a report Monday criticizing the way city of Oakland officials oversaw the development of a teen center in East Oakland, calling the process "a complete fiasco."
At issue are the Rainbow Recreation Center and the adjacent Digital Arts and Culinary Academy on International Boulevard, projects that have been championed by City Councilwoman Desley Brooks, who represents that area.
The grand jury said in its annual report that after interviewing numerous witnesses and sorting through hundreds of documents it found that "city contracting, purchasing and hiring rules were circumvented during the teen center project."
The report didn't mention Brooks by name, but it said, "One council member stepped out of their role on the council and inappropriately made administrative decisions throughout the process, often with full knowledge and complicity of city staff."
The panel said former city executives as well as current and former department heads "failed to stop this inappropriate conduct" and allowed the project to move forward "at a time when other parks and recreation programs were being cut and projects with higher priorities went unfounded."
The grand jury's report is similar to a report issued in March by City Auditor Courtney Ruby, who said Brooks interfered with city workers in her efforts to get the Rainbow Recreation Center built as well as another teen center in her district, the Arroyo Viejo Recreation Center.
Brooks couldn't be reached for comment Monday.
The grand jury report said it made numerous attempts to get the council member mentioned in its report to appear before the penal but "the council member refused to cooperate with the investigation."
In its report, called "Misgoverning the City of Oakland," the grand jury said the council member "lacked the experience and expertise to ensure that city rules -- and more importantly -- state laws intended to protect the city were followed."
The panel said, "What ensued was a complete fiasco that diverted city administration's attention away from many other dire issues the city was facing."
The grand jury said that among the problems with the project are that construction work wasn't put up for competitive bidding and the center's employees hadn't gone through sufficient background checks before being allowed to work with children.
The report said, "The Oakland City Council's interference with, and intimidation of staff, diminish the overall effectiveness of city government" and failure by city staff and department heads to report or stop council interference "contributes to the unacceptable culture of intimidation and leads to continued misconduct."
The grand jury recommended that the City Council provide the city's Public Ethics Commission with sufficient power and funding to enforce the city's ethics-related ordinances and that city elected officials receive ethics training every two years, with proof of compliance made available to the public through the city's website.
The panel also said, "No member of the city council should conduct any city business outside of the realm of their council powers as designated in the city charter and in the municipal code."
Bay Area Forecast for Tuesday June 25th
Rain is likely in the Bay Area today, with highs in the upper 50s to lower 70s. Southerly winds between 10 and 20 mph are expected.
Continued clouds and rain are expected this evening. Lows are likely to be in the 50s to lower 60s, with southwest winds up to 10 mph.
Mostly cloudy skies are likely on Wednesday. Highs are expected to be in the upper 50s to lower 70s with westerly winds up to 15 mph.
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!