A fatal hit-and-run accident has been reported in San Francisco's Mission District, a police spokesman said.
The accident occurred at 18th and Mission streets, Officer Albie Esparza said.
Additional details were not immediately available.
A fatal hit-and-run accident has been reported in San Francisco's Mission District, a police spokesman said.
The accident occurred at 18th and Mission streets, Officer Albie Esparza said.
Additional details were not immediately available.
United Airlines is working today to rebook hundreds of passengers whose flights were cancelled Friday due to a downed computer system, an airport duty manager said.
There were no new delays or cancellations today, but airline officials were working to accommodate the passengers booked on eight domestic and four international flights that were cancelled Friday when the computers went down for several hours, duty manager Dan D'Innocenti said.
Flights to Sydney and Osaka, Japan that were cancelled Friday night are flying today, D'Innocenti said. Stranded passengers headed to London and Frankfurt were being rebooked on today's flights.
United also hopes to have all of the stranded domestic passengers on new flights today, according to D'Innocenti.
A spokesperson for the company could not be reached for comment.
Hundreds of passengers were stranded at San Francisco International Airport Friday night -- and many more at airports nationwide -- because of a United Airlines computer glitch that, among other problems, prevented the airline from checking baggage.
Lines to gain information at the airline's counter were several hundred people deep at SFO, according to Bryan Carmody, a communications director for United Service Organization of Northern California. Between the USO's centers at San Francisco and San Jose, at least 40 military people and their families were stranded because of the baggage-check meltdown, Carmody said.
Part of the problem, Carmody said, was that passengers could not pass through airport security with anything larger than carry-on luggage and personal items. United operates flights out of all three of the Bay Area's major airports -- San Francisco International Airport, San Jose Mineta International Airport, and Oakland International Airport.
A duty manager at Oakland International Airport said no flights there were affected Friday evening. At San Jose International Airport, Vicki Day, director of customer services, said one flight had been delayed for an hour. --------------------------------------------------------------- A judge in Martinez Friday found that repeat sex offender Carey Verse was no longer a sexually violent predator and ordered him released from a state mental hospital where he had been held since February, his attorney Laurie Mont said.
Verse, a 40-year-old Bay Point resident, was convicted of four sex offenses in the late 1980s and early 1990s. He completed his prison sentences in 1998, but because of his history of sexual offenses, he was not released. Instead, he was sent to Atascadero State Mental Hospital, where he underwent treatment in the hospital's sexually violent predator program.
In 2004, Verse became only the second person classified as a sexually violent predator to win release under the State Department of Mental Health's conditional release program. Those conditions included 24-hour satellite monitoring and restrictions on who he could associate with and under what conditions. He was also chemically castrated during parts of his release. In February, Verse was arrested for having an illicit friendship with a man from his therapy group, which was one of the many things forbidden by the conditional release program.
Judge John Kennedy ordered him to be re-committed, this time to Coalinga State Hospital, which now houses the state's sexual violent predator program. Verse's commitment at the hospital has since expired and at least two state evaluators found that he was no longer a sexually violent predator, Mont said.
During a hearing Friday, Kennedy found there was no legal reason to hold him and ordered him to be released, this time without supervision from the state's conditional release program, Mont said. Verse will, however, be subject to the state department of justice's sex offender registration laws.
Mont said it would take the hospital at least 72 hours to process the paperwork for Verse's release. When Verse was first released from the hospital in 2004, he lived in three motels and an abbey, but communities wherever he went protested to his presence. ---------------------------------------------------------------- Sen. Barbara Boxer on Friday outlined a plan to withdraw combat forces from Afghanistan, saying the U.S. needs to change its mission from a military effort 100,000 strong to a counter-terrorism effort supported by no more than 25,000 troops by the end of 2012.
Military leaders are pushing President Barack Obama to choose a more gradual redeployment strategy, the democratic senator said in speech at the World Affairs Council of Northern California in San Francisco.
But she said recent victories, including the death of Osama bin Laden and the ongoing peace and reconciliation process, mean the U.S. should focus on more precise counter-terrorism efforts and on training Afghan forces.
The senator also said she wanted Obama to withdraw 30,000 troops by the end of the year to return ground levels to those from before the 2009 "second surge." In February 2009, the president requested an initial surge of 17,000 troops. He asked for another 30,000 that December,saying the move was temporary and would allow the U.S. to begin transferring forces out of Afghanistan in July 2011, Boxer said. Boxer argued it's time for the latter surge to end.
However, the Pentagon has asked the president to keep it in place through most of 2012 for the next two "warm weather" bouts of anticipated increased fighting, the Wall Street Journal reported Friday. Defense Secretary Robert Gates also told the Senate Appropriations Committee on Wednesday that military leaders support the significant withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2014, according to the published text of his remarks.
Boxer said Friday, though, that the significant troop redeployment could be safely done in 12 to 18 months. She argued that 10,000 to 25,00 troops would also be enough to keep terrorist networks in Pakistan from preventing or disrupting stability in Afghanistan. ----------------------------------------------------------------A 28-year-old Richmond woman was sentenced Friday to 16 years in state prison for a drunken driving accident in Oakland two years ago that killed her domestic partner as well as her partner's brother and twin 3-year-old sons. Tiffany Reynolds pleaded guilty on April 14 to four counts of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated for the accident, which took place at about 1:30 a.m. on May 25, 2009, on northbound Interstate Highway 880 near the Hegenberger Road exit.
She was sentenced by Alameda County Superior Court Judge Morris Jacobson at a hearing Friday. Alameda County prosecutors said Reynolds had a blood alcohol level of 0.21, nearly three times the legal limit, and was traveling at speeds up to 90 mph.
They said that as a result of Reynolds' reckless driving, she lost control of a 1990 Honda Accord and crashed into a concrete support beam at the Hegenberger exit. Killed were 23-year-old Sara Terra, who was Reynolds' domestic partner and was pregnant, Terra's twins, Jason and Jessie Woodson, and Terra's brother, 20-year-old David Terra of Modesto.
District Attorney Nancy O'Malley said Alameda is one of four counties selected by the state Legislature for a pilot project in which interlock devices must be installed on every vehicle of a person who has been convicted of driving under the influence. She said convicted drunk drivers must blow into such a device and if the device detects any alcohol the car will not start. ----------------------------------------------------------------Colma police earlier have arrested a man and woman suspected of several storage locker burglaries in the area. Joseph Matthew Dowd, 44, and Janette Azadian, 36, were arrested in San Francisco Tuesday afternoon, police said. Colma police detectives determined that a vehicle used in a burglary at a storage facility in their city was located at Dowd's residence in San Francisco.
While conducting surveillance on the vehicle, Dowd and Azadian entered the car and drove away, according to police. They were later stopped by police and taken into custody at a recycling center in San Francisco, where they had apparently gone to dispose of property taken in various burglaries, police said. Both Dowd and Azadian have since been charged with multiple counts of burglary and identity theft and admitted to being involved in burglaries in Colma, police said. Investigators also believe the pair are responsible for numerous burglaries in San Francisco and Daly City.
When she was arrested, Azadian was out on bail for similar crimes she allegedly committed in Southern California. She was also booked on outstanding warrants out of San Francisco. Police were able to recover about $5,000 in stolen property connected to the burglaries in Colma. ----------------------------------------------------------------A budget cut protest and march in Oakland that blocked streets Friday afternoon led to 10 arrests but no injuries or property damage, Oakland police officials said.
The group Bay of Rage was protesting government budget cuts and, according to the group's website, planned to occupy the streets of Oakland beginning at Telegraph Avenue and Broadway from about 3 p.m. The group's event website says it is fighting austerity plans in Oakland and hopes to "save the libraries and destroy capitalism." ----------------------------------------------------------------A mistrial was declared Friday in the competency trial of a San Mateo psychiatrist accused of molesting seven male patients during the early 1990s, San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said.
William Ayres, 79, suffers from dementia and memory loss, which his attorneys argued prevent him from understanding the nature of the charges against him and cooperating in his defense.
Deputy District Attorney Melissa McKowan, however, said the court has built-in protections that allow people with impairments to participate in trials. Jurors deadlocked 8-4 Friday, with the majority saying Ayres' dementia rendered him incompetent to stand trial, leading the court to declare a mistrial, Wagstaffe said.
The case will continue next week, when the judge and attorneys will decide whether to retry the competency issue. Otherwise, Ayres is considered competent, Wagstaffe said. Ayres was charged with nine counts of performing lewd acts on seven boys during counseling sessions that took place between 1991 and 1996.
A criminal trial in the summer of 2009 ended with a hung jury, but prosecutors decided that August to retry the case. The criminal proceedings were suspended when Ayres' attorney, Jonathan McDougall, questioned his client's competency in light of "an insidious onset of dementia." Ayres' wife of 49 years, Solvig Ayres, testified in the trial that her husband struggled to remember their son's name, their door code, and the meaning of the word "biscuit." ----------------------------------------------------------------A small grass fire that took place Thursday in Antioch appears to be the fourth suspicious grass fire in the same area within the past week, a Contra Costa County Fire Protection District dispatcher said Friday.
The fire was reported at 7:24 p.m. in a grassy area between Yorkshire Drive and Point Dume Court. Flames only scorched about a quarter of an acre and firefighters had the blaze under control by 7:39 p.m., the dispatcher said.
All four fires started in the same large grassy area, which is surrounded by homes. ----------------------------------------------------------------San Jose police released a sketch Friday of a suspect thought to have committed at least 20 armed robberies throughout the Bay Area. The most recent robbery occurred on Sunday June 12 on the 1100 block of Lincoln Avenue in San Jose, police said.
The suspect in that robbery entered a store, brandished a handgun at employees and demanded money. He fled on foot with an undisclosed amount of money and has not been found or arrested.
Investigators believe the same suspect is also responsible for a string of robberies in San Francisco, San Leandro, San Bruno, Redwood City, Pacifica, Menlo Park, Fremont, Daly City and Colma.
He is described as an African American male in his mid 30s, 5 feet 8 inches to 5 feet 9 inches tall, 200 pounds, with black hair and brown eyes. He is considered armed and dangerous, police said. ----------------------------------------------------------------A homeless man from Southern California suspected of robbing a bank was arrested at a Mountain View Starbucks Friday morning, where police found him lounging almost half an hour after the robbery a few blocks away.
Officers arrested Lawrence Petitta, 53, on suspicion of stealing $1,100 from California Bank and Trust at 700 West El Camino Real. An employee at the bank reported the robbery around 9:10 a.m. Witnesses told police the robber approached a teller, claimed he had a gun, though no one saw it, and demanded money. After taking the money, he fled, but detectives found him 25 minutes later at a Starbucks around the corner reading a newspaper, wearing different clothes than witnesses had described.
While Petitta was in the bathroom at Starbucks, officers evacuated the cafe. When he came out, he had shaved his facial hair and was wearing a different outfit. They arrested him after bank employees identified him as the suspect.
The stolen money was recovered, and the clothes he had worn during the robbery were found in the restroom trashcan. Although he is from Southern California, police said Petitta is known to frequent the Marin County area. ----------------------------------------------------------------A Sonoma County Superior Court judge ruled Friday that a man who allegedly stabbed his guardian in April is mentally incompetent to stand trial for attempted murder.
Judge Robert LaForge had earlier suspended criminal proceedings against 20-year-old Micah Hughes pending a psychiatric exam. Hughes was charged with the attempted murder of 51-year-old Mitchell Davis, who was stabbed 10 to 12 times in a vehicle at Santa Rosa Avenue and Todd Road in unincorporated Sonoma County around 7:15 p.m. on April 30.
He was arrested two days later after Rohnert Park police received an anonymous tip that he was seen wandering around Benicia Park in Rohnert Park.
Police found Hughes sitting on a knoll near the Boys and Girls Club of Rohnert Park on Santa Barbara Avenue. Hughes will have another mental health evaluation before a hearing on July 22 to determine the mental health hospital to which he will be sent. ----------------------------------------------------------------The Bay Area is forecast to be mostly cloudy with patchy fog this morning, with highs near 60. It is expected to be partly cloudy this evening, becoming mostly cloudy with patchy fog after midnight and lows in the lower 50s.
Sunday is expected to cloudy with patchy fog in the morning, becoming partly cloudy, with highs in the upper 50s to mid 60s.
Marin County Superior Court Judge Andrew E. Sweet unsealed documents Thursday that detail the probable cause for arresting Joseph Naso for the murders of four women, two from the Bay Area, between 1977 and 1994. The documents cite evidence that includes DNA, writings, newspaper articles, women's photos and a list of women's names and locations that allegedly implicate the former self-employed photographer in the slayings. Naso, 77, of Reno, Nev., was arrested without a warrant by Marin County Sheriff's investigators on April 11 in South Lake Tahoe when he was released from the El Dorado County jail where he was serving one year for a probation violation. He is charged with the murders of Roxene Roggasch, 18, of Oakland; Carmen Lorraine Colon, 22, an East Bay resident; and Pamela Parsons, 38, and Tracey Tayofa, 31, both of Yuba County. The probable cause documents state all four women were working as prostitutes at the time of their deaths. Sweet sealed the documents at the request of the Marin County District Attorney's Office. Naso, who is representing himself, also asked the documents be sealed. Several Bay Area and Nevada media organizations challenged the sealing, arguing they are public court records, and Sweet postponed ruling on the issue after a hearing on May 25. In his June 14 ruling, Sweet concluded that unsealing the probable cause statements would neither prejudice Naso's right to a fair trial nor the ongoing investigation. Most of the contents of the probable cause statements have already been reported in the media, and "remaining matter will likely be revealed to the public during the preliminary hearing scheduled to commence on July 11," Sweet said. Sweet also determined the probable cause documents qualified as public court records.
An attack that left a 91-year-old woman dead and her grandson wounded was no sudden quarrel but instead was the result of a months-long plan to kidnap a 2-year-old girl who was the subject of a bitter custody battle, a prosecutor said Thursday. In his closing argument in the trial of Rosa Hill, 36, and her mother, 57-year-old Mei Li, of Antioch, prosecutor Casey Bates said Rosa Hill's claim that she went to the Dublin home of Selma Hill, her husband's grandmother, on Jan. 7, 2009, to talk about her concerns about the custody arrangement for the couple's daughter was "farcical and absurd." Bates said, "There was no discussion and no effort to talk about the custody of the child." Instead, Bates alleged that Rosa Hill and Li had plotted for up to nine months to kill Selma Hill and Eric Hill, who was Rosa's husband, and kidnap the couple's daughter. He said notes later recovered by police showed that Rosa Hill and Li called their plan "Operation Custody" and purchased a cache of weapons worthy of a small army, including guns, stun guns, a sword, a hammer tool, a crossbow, a throat cutter, a knife and a baton. In addition, Bates said that when police investigated a computer that Rosa Hill and her mother used, they discovered that the two women had conducted Internet searches on how to get away with murder and how to strangle someone as well as on using deadly substances such as arsenic, cyanide, strychnine, mustard gas and ammonia. Hill and her mother also bought camouflage and multiple gloves, masks and wigs, he said. "It speaks to the absurdity of this case," Bates said. "Every contingency is considered." Rosa Hill and Li are both charged with murder and attempted murder, and Li is also charged with burglary for allegedly entering Selma Hill's home. Rosa Hill faces a term of 44 years to life in state prison if she is convicted of all the charges against her, and Li faces 38 years to life.
A San Francisco man removed from a U.S. Airways flight and arrested after he allegedly refused to pull up his pants remains in custody Thursday while prosecutors consider whether to file charges. Deshon Marman, 20, was arrested Wednesday morning on suspicion of a felony count of battery of a police officer and misdemeanor counts of resisting arrest and trespassing. However, he has not been charged and no court date has been set while prosecutors conduct additional interviews and consider what charges, if any, should be filed, according to San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe. He remains in custody with bail set at $10,000 and must be charged or released by 11 a.m. today. Marman, who was boarding Flight 488 to Albuquerque, N.M., was instructed by airline crew members several times to pull up his pants to cover his underwear, both before he boarded and on the plane, according to San Francisco police Sgt. Michael Rodriguez. Marman allegedly refused to pull up his pants, and when he sat in his seat, he pulled them all the way down, Rodriguez said. Police were called in around 9:05 a.m. "The captain decided he was not going to fly with that person," Rodriguez said. Eventually the captain told other passengers on board to deplane, ordered Marman to leave the plane and then placed him under citizen's arrest for trespassing, after he refused an order to leave the plane, Rodriguez said. Marman was escorted off the plane by police and then allegedly resisted officers when they tried to handcuff him. One officer received a cut to his hand and a sprained knee in the struggle. U.S. Airways spokesman Andrew Christie confirmed a passenger was removed from an aircraft and taken into custody "after repeatedly ignoring crew members' instructions." "While U.S. Airways does not have a specific dress code, we ask our customers to dress in an appropriate manner to ensure the safety and comfort of all of our passengers," Christie said.
Transit riders who rely on the San Francisco Municipal Railway's N-Judah and J-Church lines might have to take an extra train or bus Thursday morning as crews work to repair electrical wires downed Thursday. Underground service to those two lines was knocked out after an inbound N train dislodged a power source in the tunnel at Duboce and Church streets late Thursday morning, San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency spokesman Paul Rose said. A piece of equipment on top of the vehicle -- the pantograph, which connects the vehicle to Muni's overhead wires -- apparently broke minutes earlier when the train was near Second Avenue and Irving Street, Rose said. When the train entered the tunnel, it dragged down the wires in a section of the tunnel before the underground merger with other Muni Metro lines, but it also disrupted the power source for the K-Ingleside, L-Taraval and M-Ocean View lines. For about six hours, there was no underground service between Church and Embarcadero stations. Crews were able to restore power to the K, L and M by 5:30 p.m., but Rose said that the N and J underground service was not expected to be restored until this morning. Affected passengers can take another Muni Metro train to Church station and transfer aboveground to a J or N vehicle, among other alternatives, Rose said. "We're planning to work overnight to make sure that it doesn't affect the morning commute," he said.
State Sen. Leland Yee released a statement Wednesday criticizing a $384,000 severance package for outgoing San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency executive director Nathaniel Ford, who is leaving the agency at the end of the month. Ford confirmed earlier Wednesday that he is leaving on June 30, two and a half years before his contract's end. His departure will be certified at the SFMTA board's next meeting on Tuesday. Ford, who joined the SFMTA as its CEO in 2006, is receiving a $384,000 severance package that includes a year's salary, deferred compensation and unused vacation time. The deal was criticized by Yee, who is also running to become San Francisco's mayor in November. "At a time when our budget is cutting critical social services for our kids and the most vulnerable in our city, we can ill-afford to be paying excessive payouts to administrators who are no longer working for the public," he said in a statement. Yee said he has previously fought these "golden parachute" severance packages for administrators at the University of California and California State University, and as mayor, he would reform the practice. A spokesperson for the SFMTA was not immediately available for comment.
A Santa Clara man allegedly confessed to killing Maria Orozco earlier this month and then disposing of her body in a black garbage bag in a Sunnyvale neighborhood, according to a court document. The Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office has filed one count of murder, with an enhancement for use of a deadly weapon, against Feliciano Valencia-Santiago, 47, for the murder of Orozco, a 46-year-old San Jose resident, in a house in the 800 block of Revere Drive in Sunnyvale. The house is less than a mile from the 800 block of Ticonderoga Drive, where on June 5 Orozco's body was found in a large, loosely cinched garbage bag between some shrubs. The residence burned down in December and Valencia-Santiago was hired as a day laborer by the homeowner to help her clean up and move her belongings, according to the court document. The Santa Clara County medical examiner's office determined that the cause of Orozco's death was trauma to the head. Orozco's cellphone records indicate that the day before she was found dead, she received 22 calls from Valencia-Santiago. But from May 22 to June 6, she received 13 calls from him. The nature of their relationship was not reflected in the statement of facts submitted by police. Surveillance video on a Valley Transportation Authority bus shows Orozco getting off the bus at about 7:10 p.m. on June 4. Last Friday night, detectives tracked Valencia-Santiago down and arrested him in Santa Clara based on leads and after recovering physical evidence allegedly linking him to the crime. He allegedly confessed to the murder to police during the arrest. He remains in custody, with no bail allowed. Valencia-Santiago is expected to plead to one count of murder on June 27 in Palo Alto, according to the district attorney's office. If convicted as charged, he faces a maximum of 26 years to life in prison.
Phillip Garrido arrived Thursday at the state's only protected-housing prison unit, where he joins such high-profile inmates as Charles Manson and Juan Corona to begin serving 431 years to life for kidnapping, raping and imprisoning Jaycee Dugard, according to a department of corrections spokeswoman. Garrido's wife and accomplice, Nancy Garrido, was received Wednesday at Central California Women's Facility in Chowchilla to begin serving 36 years to life for her role in taking Dugard, now 31, from South Lake Tahoe in 1991 and holding the girl captive in the couple's backyard near Antioch for 18 years. Phillip Garrido spent Thursday in a segregated cell at Corcoran State Prison in Kings County, but he could be eligible for a roommate in the future, Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation spokeswoman Terry Thornton said. The 14 or so inmates who reside at the protected-housing unit are allowed to interact with one another but would be in danger if they were with the generation population, Thornton said. Otherwise, though, "it functions like a general-population unit," Thornton said. Garrido, 60, pleaded guilty in April to kidnapping Dugard, plus 13 counts of sexual assault and lewd acts, with enhancements. He and his wife were sentenced on June 2 at a somber hearing at which the presiding judge said he thought Phillip Garrido "lacked a soul" and was the "poster child" of a sexual predator incapable of rehabilitation. Nancy Garrido, 55, also pleaded guilty to kidnapping plus one count of rape by force and several enhancements. She was being single-celled Thursday at the women's facility reception center while her long-term needs are evaluated, Thornton said. "Reception is a process," Thornton said. "We determine their housing and programming needs, custody level, mental health and physical health." The process can take up to 45 days, Thornton said. Dugard, who has two daughters who were fathered by Garrido, said in a statement read at the sentencing that everything the couple did to her was wrong, and she hopes that someday they realize that.
A civil grand jury report released on Wednesday indicated that changes, particularly in regard to outdated response protocols, must be made within Santa Clara County fire departments to save taxpayer money and improve efficiency. The report, titled "Fighting Fire or Fighting Change? Rethinking Fire Department Response Protocol and Consolidation Opportunities," claims that by shifting resources and adopting reforms, fire departments in the county can reduce costs and enable stations to remain open despite budget strains. Among the main critiques in the report is that fire departments send more personnel and firefighting equipment in response to medical emergencies that are not life-threatening than is necessary, draining taxpayer dollars. The fire departments' response protocol is outdated, the report maintains, because even though fire-related calls have declined, fire departments continue to use the same strategy from decades ago, when fire-related calls were more frequent, to respond to all emergencies. The report states that 70 percent of the calls firefighters respond to are for medical emergencies, whereas only 4 percent are for fires. It would be better to deploy an ambulance at the cost of $100,000 than to send a fire engine at the cost of $500,000 to taxpayers, according to the report. Another critique is that only one of every three fire crew members is trained to respond to medical situations, which indicates a "mismatch between service needed and service provided." The report makes a number of recommendations, including managing fire department personnel more effectively, changing response protocol to better respond to emergency calls that are medical-related, and exploring consolidation opportunities. San Jose Fire Chief William McDonald addressed some of the critiques at a news conference Thursday afternoon, saying that some changes within the department are afoot. He said smaller vehicles and fewer personnel, consisting of one paramedic and one firefighter, would be deployed in response to most incidents that are not fire-related. "We have lots of support and willingness to better the department," McDonald said.
The San Mateo-Foster City School District board has appointed Cynthia Simms as its new superintendent, district officials said Wednesday. Simms, currently the interim superintendent for the Los Gatos Union School District, will replace Pendery Clark, who is retiring after 10 years as superintendent. Clark's retirement was announced in January. "We are excited to have Dr. Simms as our new superintendent," board president Mark Hudak said in a statement. "She has a proven record of helping schools achieve academic excellence for all students. She will bring the experience we need to meet the challenges facing our schools" Simms said she has long admired the "unique opportunities" that the district offers students through its wide variety of magnet school options, including an International Baccalaureate program, Mandarin Chinese and Spanish immersion programs, Montessori schools, Visual Performing Arts, a year-round calendar, and its science, technology, engineering and mathematics program. "One approach doesn't fit all," Simms said. "Our job as educators is to ensure that all students achieve at a proficient or advanced level academically as well as socially, emotionally and physically -- learning through programs of instruction that best match their interests and learning styles." Simms holds a bachelor's degree in elementary education from Bethany College, a master's degree in public administration from the University of Denver and a master's degree in education from the University of Virginia, as well as a doctorate in school administration from the University of Denver. She has experience in "interest-based" bargaining with public employee unions, a process that seeks to identify common interests and concerns between parties, and is known for taking a collaborative approach, district officials said. She also has experience in budget issues and has written a resource book called "A Handbook for Coping with Decelerating Resources" for the Colorado Department of Education. Simms' appointment will be confirmed by the district board at its meeting Thursday and will take effect July 6.
The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors passed a $1.2 billion budget for 2011-12 Thursday morning on its fourth day of budget hearings. The unanimous vote came at about the same time it was learned that Gov. Jerry Brown had vetoed the state budget passed Wednesday by Democrats in the Legislature. Supervisors were faced with cutting $42.8 million from next year's budget. They restored $8.7 million in spending to the budget after reviewing items on an add-back list that included money for road improvements, the sheriff's helicopter unit and a juvenile girls' jail alternative facility, among several other programs and staff positions. The add-backs were funded by money from a number of special accounts. The budget reductions now total $34.1 million. The general fund portion of the budget increased from $379 million to $384.7 million. County Administrator Veronica Ferguson asked public safety departments to reduce their general fund budgets by 16 percent and other departments to cut 20-25 percent from their budgets. The budget initially called for the elimination of 223 positions and 63 layoffs. Now, 180 positions will be eliminated, said Jim Leddy, community and governmental affairs manager. The number of actual layoffs has not yet been determined. "This is a fair, responsible and compassionate budget," Board Chairman Efren Carrillo said.
San Francisco mayoral candidates gathered for a debate Thursday evening on the best ways to use technology to improve the city. The SFOpen 2011 debate brought together nine contenders who hope to be elected San Francisco's next mayor in November and asked them questions submitted online. State Sen. Leland Yee, Supervisors John Avalos and David Chiu, City Attorney Dennis Herrera, former Supervisors Tony Hall, Bevan Dufty and Michela Alioto-Pier, City Assessor-Recorder Phil Ting and venture capitalist Joanna Rees made up the nine candidates attending the event, held at Pier 38 in the offices of Automattic, which runs the popular blogging service WordPress. The candidates stressed the importance of transparency in government and the need to increase innovation to improve the lives of residents. Dufty said, "Being open means accepting the fact that you're not perfect," and pledged to post his daily schedule to show the public who he was meeting with each day. Herrera said he wanted to establish an office of innovation and a chief digital officer because "we have to have the mechanisms to make sure that information is getting out to the public," while Alioto-Pier said the city's budget should use more input from the public and should be searchable online. Ting said public participation through new technology was key to improving the city. "Government always works better when you have more say," he said. More than 30 candidates in all have filed to run for mayor in what appears to be a wide-open race. Interim Mayor Ed Lee, who took over when former Mayor Gavin Newsom was elected the state's lieutenant governor, has said he does not plan to run for reelection. Thursday evening's debate also kicked off "The Summer of Smart," a four-month experiment in urban innovation and open government sponsored by the Gray Area Foundation for the Arts, the city's Department of Technology, and other organizations. For more information about the project, visit www.summerofsmart.org.
A federal jury in San Francisco Thursday awarded a diabetic bodybuilder at least $152,000 on his claim that Redwood City police used excessive force on him at a scuffle at a movie theater in 2007. Douglas Burns, 50, of Cupertino, was known as "Mr. Natural Universe" after he won a competition for steroid-free bodybuilders in 2006. He alleged in a civil rights lawsuit that officers Jaime Mateo and David Gough failed to notice he was in insulin shock when Mateo pepper-sprayed him and the two officers wrestled him to the ground and struck him with batons before handcuffing him. The officers said Burns initially appeared to be drunk and to be resisting arrest. The jury in the court of U.S. District Judge Richard Seeborg concluded after a two-week trial and three days of deliberation that Burns suffered damages of $217,784 in the incident. The jurors found that Mateo used excessive force and that both officers were negligent. The panel also said Burns was negligent as well and that the officers had 70 percent of the responsibility of the negligence and Burns had 30 percent. Lawyers for Burns and the city disagreed on whether Burns will receive the entire damages amount or 70 percent of it, which would be an award of $152,448. Joseph Howard, a lawyer for the city, said Redwood City will appeal the entire verdict by first asking Seeborg to set aside the judgment and then, if necessary, appealing to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
The Bay Area is forecast to see mostly cloudy skies and patchy fog this morning, becoming partly cloudy with highs near 60. West winds of around 5 mph are expected, increasing to southwest winds of 10 to 20 mph this afternoon. Tonight is expected to be cloudy, with patchy fog after midnight, and lows in the lower 50s. Saturday is expected to be mostly cloudy with patchy fog in the morning and highs near 60.
Shooting Suspect Wearing Red Cap and T-Shirt
Police are looking for a man suspected of a road rage shooting that injured a San Francisco city employee working this morning in the Bayview District.
An employee with the city's Department of Parking and Traffic was shot in the shoulder at about 8:35 a.m. near the intersection of Palou Avenue and Quint Street.
The suspect is described as a 30-year-old Hispanic man with a medium build.
He was last seen wearing a red baseball cap and red T-shirt, police spokesman Officer Albie Esparza said.
The suspect had been angry and cursing after a DPT painting truck had made a U-turn or similar maneuver.
He got out of his car and opened fire on the truck, and one of the bullets hit the driver in the shoulder blade, Esparza said.
A passenger in the DPT truck was not injured in the shooting.
The suspect fled the scene in what witnesses described as a dark colored medium-sized car, Esparza said.
The DPT employee was treated for his injuries at San Francisco General Hospital and was released earlier today, fire department spokeswoman Mindy Talmadge said.
The San Francisco Black Film Festival begins a weekend of films and performances tonight with a red carpet event and several film screenings.
The festival kicks off its 13th year with a red carpet ceremony at Yoshi's San Francisco, followed by several screenings, including a Mario Van Peebles' film, "Things Fall Apart" starring 50 Cent and Ray Liotta, at Lumiere Theatre.
"Congratulations to the San Francisco Black Film Festival as it provides a platform for known and accomplished filmmakers and actors and also emerging artists," Mayor Ed Lee said in a statement.
"The festival is significant also because it gives people from around the world an opportunity to visit our multicultural city helping to stimulate our city's film industry," Lee said.
The weekend's events will also include performances by musical artists Hope Briggs, fLO, and Keldamuzik, organizers said.
Films will be screened at various venues throughout the weekend.
Visit www.sfbff.org for a complete list of events, times, and venues.
A man was shot in the leg after an argument with another man in San Francisco's Bernal Heights neighborhood on Thursday night, police said.
The shooting was reported shortly after 8 p.m. in the 3200 block of Mission Street.
The 21-year-old victim was walking and arguing with a suspect who was in a black vehicle, according to police.
As the argument escalated, the suspect pulled out a handgun and shot the victim in the leg, police said.
The victim was taken to San Francisco General Hospital to be treated for his injuries, which are not considered life-threatening.
The suspect fled in the vehicle and had not been found as of this morning, according to police.
Anyone with information about the shooting is encouraged to call the Police Department's anonymous tip line at (415) 575-4444 or send a tip by text message to TIP411.
Bella the swan is moving out after receiving a less than gracious reception from her brother and sister-in-law at the lagoon near San Francisco's Palace of Fine Arts, Recreation and Park Department officials said.
The family drama began Sunday when Bella rejoined her brother, Blue Boy, and her sister-in-law, Blanche, after spending more than a month recuperating from a fractured webbed foot at her birth home in Point Reyes.
While Bella was away, Blanche gave birth to Martha.
The new parents are protective of their cygnet and aggressive towards outsiders, department officials said.
Swan caretakers at the Palace were worried there might be tension within the family when Bella returned but hoped the parents would adjust to the aunt's arrival.
But the family reunion has been fraught with bickering and sibling rivalry and caretakers feel it would be best for the whole family if Bella finds a home of her own, according to department officials.
Bella will be relocated to a home in Petaluma to give the family some space -- for now, at least.
"I hope they can at least enjoy visits over the holidays," said Phil Ginsburg, general manager of the Recreation and Park Department in a statement.
The San Francisco Municipal Railway's N-Judah and J-Church lines resumed regular service this morning after overnight service repairs.
Underground service to those lines was knocked late Thursday morning after an N train dislodged a power source in the tunnel at Duboce and Church streets, transit officials said.
No delays are reported in service this morning.
A fallen tree at Union and Hyde streets that blocked the Powell-Hyde cable car line in both directions has been removed, San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency officials said.
The Department of Public Works removed tree branches that had fallen onto the tracks, Muni spokesman Paul Rose said.
Bus shuttles were used to carry cable car passengers past the blocked section of track in the meantime, Rose said.
John Lee, a manager at Swensen's Ice Cream at 1999 Hyde St., said part of a tree fell on the tracks around noon, and more branches fell a short time later.
The California Supreme Court ruled today that a Los Angeles lawyer can sue a debt collector for allegedly disclosing his and his children's dental records and other personal information to credit reporting agencies.
The high court unanimously ruled that the lawsuit by attorney Robert Brown against now-retired debt collector Stewart Mortensen was permitted by California's Confidentiality of Medical Information Act.
"Individuals, as patients, have a substantial interest in the privacy of their medical information," wrote Justice Kathryn Werdegar.
The panel overturned a Court of Appeal ruling that said the lawsuit must be dismissed because the state law was preempted by the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act.
The decision, issued at the court's headquarters in San Francisco, sends the case back to Los Angeles Superior Court for a trial on Brown's lawsuit.
The case began with a dispute over whether Brown owed his dentist, Rolf Reinholds, $600 for a dental crown for which the dentist billed him in 2000.
Brown claimed he never received the crown and refused to pay the bill. The dentist then referred to the bill to Mortensen for collection and sent him Brown's dental chart as well as those of his two children.
Brown claimed those charts contained 10 years of medical information and other confidential details such as Social Security numbers.
His lawsuit alleged that Mortensen then sent the information to the nation's three major credit reporting agencies in violation of the confidentiality law, despite repeated requests by Brown that he stop making the disclosures.
In today's decision, the court said the state law does not conflict with the federal credit law because the U.S. statute concerns disclosure of inaccurate information while the state measure bars unauthorized release of information.
The panel also said the privacy provisions of a second federal law, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, do not conflict because the wording of that law specifically encourages additional, more protective state measures.
"Congress in HIPAA ... authorized and encouraged further state regulation of such matters," Werdegar wrote.
Charles Messer, a lawyer for Mortensen, said his client is considering an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. Brown hailed the ruling as a victory for consumers. "The decision demonstrates a clear and positive statement that California law must be applied to protect medical privacy in this information age," Brown said.
The attorney said that in the future trial court proceedings, he will seek to make the case a class action on behalf of all Californians whose medical information was turned over to credit agencies and other third parties without their permission.
Brown said the class might be as many as 4 million people, because Mortensen testified in a deposition that he gave information about that number of people to third parties, according to Brown.
Most of the people were in Southern California, Brown said.
San Francisco firefighters are responding to a fire in the city's Inner Sunset neighborhood.
The blaze was reported at 12:36 p.m. in the 1600 block of 10th Avenue, a fire dispatcher said.
Firefighters arrived in less than three minutes, he said.
Part of a tree has fallen on the cable car tracks at Union and Hyde Streets, blocking cable car and vehicle traffic, according to a witness at the scene.
John Lee, a manager at Swensen's Ice Cream at 1999 Hyde St., said part of a tree fell on the tracks around noon, and more branches fell a short time later.
City workers are at the scene but they appear to be waiting for equipment to arrive, and police have closed off the block to traffic, Lee said.
A San Francisco Municipal Railway spokesman was not immediately available to provide details.
A man accused of storming into a home in San Francisco's Jordan Park neighborhood and attacking another man with a hammer early Monday morning has pleaded not guilty to charges stemming from the assault, prosecutors said today.
Denis Tseyref, 28, pleaded not guilty Wednesday to burglary, robbery, assault and false imprisonment charges in connection with the attack, which was reported at about 1 a.m. Monday at a home in the 3400 block of Geary Boulevard.
Tseyref and another man allegedly broke down the home's front door and encountered the 45-year-old victim, police said.
Prosecutors said Tseyref then allegedly struck him several times with a hammer in the head and knees while the other suspect held him down.
The pair then took three computers and a phone before fleeing, police said.
The victim was hospitalized but his injuries were not life-threatening.
Although property was taken, the initial motive for breaking into the home may have been a dispute over a woman that the victim and Tseyref both had dated, police spokesman Lt. Troy Dangerfield said.
The victim identified Tseyref as the attacker, and police found and arrested him later Monday.
The second suspect, described as a black man in his late 40s, had not been found as of this morning, Dangerfield said.
Tseyref pleaded not guilty to one count each of residential burglary, residential robbery, assault with a deadly weapon and false imprisonment, and is being held in lieu of $200,000 bail.
He will return to court on July 7 for a preliminary hearing.
A good nap is a fine way to spend the afternoon.
Companies could collectively decide to create a shuttle service for their employees, said Gillian Gillette, chief of staff to city supervisor Scott Wiener.
Paid for by Phil Ting for Assembly 2012. FPPC ID# 1343137