California Department of Food and Argriculture Realease Specie To Control Weed
Scientists with the California Department of Food and Agriculture
began releasing a small insect native to South America into the
Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta earlier this month in an effort to control an
invasive species of plant that has been choking waterways.
The insect, known as the water hyacinth plant hopper, has a
voracious appetite for water hyacinth, an aquatic weed that has been causing
serious problems in the Delta.
Water hyacinth, which itself is native to the Amazon region of
South America, is a floating weed that can grow so densely that it forms
thick rafts that cover the surface of the water, preventing boat access and
clogging intake systems.
The leaf hoppers destroy the plant by sucking plant juices from
its leaves, eventually killing them.
Before releasing the insect, state and federal scientists reviewed
it extensively to make sure its introduction into the Delta would not cause
unforeseen harm to the ecosystem, said Steve Lyle, director of public affairs
for the California Department of Food and Agriculture.
The creature has proven to feed only on water hyacinth, which
makes it an ideal insect to use as a biological control agent, Lyle said.
He said scientists do not believe it presents any potential harm
to humans or to native species living in the Delta.
So far, the department has released a little more than 5,000 water
hyacinth leaf hoppers into the Delta in Sacramento and San Joaquin counties,
"The hope is that we will get self-sustaining colonies," Lyle
If the pilot release is successful, Lyle said the department would
most likely release more water hyacinth leaf hoppers into other areas in the
Delta where water hyacinth is a problem.
He also said this program is one of many in which the department
is working to control pests without the use of pesticide sprays.
Marijuana Plant Found
East Bay Regional Park District police have found at least one
active marijuana cultivation site near a woodland area south of Moraga where
suspects opened fire on a police officer earlier this week, the department
The officer was conducting a foot patrol near the Upper San
Leandro Reservoir at about 6:50 p.m. Monday when two suspects fired an
assault rifle at him.
Police said the officer returned fire and took cover, and was not
injured in the attack. He called for emergency assistance and was safely
retrieved from the scene in a park district police armored rescue vehicle,
Alameda County SWAT teams and other local jurisdictions helped
regional parks police search the expansive watershed space on Tuesday and
Wednesday, when they finally found the crime scene, police said Thursday.
Evidence of the firefight -- including expended firearms
ammunition casings from a high-powered assault rifle -- was sent to a crime
lab for processing, police said.
The department said aerial surveillance has uncovered at least one
active marijuana cultivation site, although it is not clear yet if the
shooting was related to the grow.
Police had not identified any suspects as of Thursday and were
asking anyone with information to call the department at (510) 881-1833.
Memorial to be Held for Slain Officer
A memorial service will be held this morning for slain Marin
County sheriff's Deputy Jim Mathiesen.
Between 800 and 1,200 people are expected to attend the service at
the 2,000-seat Marin Veterans' Memorial Auditorium between 11 a.m. and 4
p.m., San Rafael police spokeswoman Margo Rohrbacher said.
Traffic on North San Pedro Road, Civic Center Drive, Redwood
Highway and Scettrini Drive may be severely impacted, and there will be heavy
foot traffic from the Marin County Civic Center crossing Civic Center Drive,
There will be no parking between 6 a.m. and 3 p.m. on either side
of a stretch of Civic Center Drive south of Peter Behr Drive or on McInnis
Parkway from Civic Center Drive past the Embassy Suites Hotel, Rohrbacher
Mathiesen, 49, a nine-year sheriff's employee who worked at the
jail and county courthouse, was fatally shot by 28-year-old Thomas Halloran
of Novato outside a home on Liberty Drive near Petaluma on July 19,
Mathiesen was unarmed and off-duty when he went to the home after
Halloran's ex-girlfriend's mother, Stacey Powers, who was his friend,
informed him that Halloran had sent threatening text messages to her
Halloran showed up at the residence about 20 minutes after
Mathiesen arrived. Several people were home at the time -- Powers, her
daughter and her son, Anthony Taverna.
When Mathiesen went outside to ask Halloran to leave, Halloran
shot the deputy at least twice around 12:12 a.m., according to the Sonoma
County Sheriff's Office. Mathiesen died at the scene.
When Halloran then took Powers hostage and tried to force her at
gunpoint into a car in the garage, Powers' son Anthony Taverna shot Halloran,
who also died at the scene, sheriff's officials said.
People suround City Hall In Support of Man
About 20 people gathered outside San Francisco City Hall Thursday
in support of a man who said he was the target of harassment by police
because of his criticism of a shooting that involved officers in the city's
Bayview District earlier this month.
Debray Carpenter, 22, said he was arrested Saturday for making
disparaging comments about police to a media outlet a day earlier.
Carpenter was arrested on suspicion of making threats on an
executive officer and resisting arrest, police spokesman Lt. Troy Dangerfield
The district attorney's office declined to file charges against
him and he was released early Wednesday.
Carpenter said, "Police have attacked me and continue to attack me
because I speak up" about the death of 19-year-old Seattle resident Kenneth
Harding Jr. in the Bayview on July 16.
Harding died following a shootout with police officers who were
conducting San Francisco Municipal Railway fare enforcement near Third Street
and Palou Avenue earlier that day.
Police said officers shot at Harding after he fired at them, and
later said an autopsy showed that the bullet that killed him did not come
from a police gun, and that he appeared to have shot himself.
Thursday police also announced that they had found Harding's gun,
which amateur video footage showed was apparently picked up by someone at the
scene who walked away with it before officers could establish the crime
Carpenter, a lifetime Bayview resident who also goes by the
nickname "Fly Benzo," questioned the police version of the events in
Harding's case, saying "police make stuff up every day."
He also denied the police version of his own arrest on Saturday.
Dangerfield said Carpenter was arrested not because of anything
that occurred on Saturday, but rather for an incident on July 19 at Third
Street and Oakdale Avenue, where the shooting involving Harding occurred.
Two Men Arrested After Attacking Airlines Pilot
Two men were arrested Wednesday night at Miami International
Airport after they allegedly attacked an American Airlines pilot on a flight
headed to San Francisco, police and airline officials said.
Flight 1755 was taxiing out of the Miami airport at about 9 p.m.
Wednesday when a passenger who seemed intoxicated failed to comply with
flight crew instructions, according to police.
The suspect, Jonathan Baez, 27, was sleeping and not wearing his
seat belt, and when a flight attendant tried unsuccessfully to wake him up,
she became concerned he was drunk or on drugs, according to the Miami-Dade
police arrest affidavit.
The flight attendant told the pilot, who decided to turn the plane
around, the affidavit said.
"(The crew) didn't want that to escalate in the air," airline
spokesman Tim Smith said.
The pilot and the flight attendant then went to wake up Baez and
tell him he could not fly because of his condition, the affidavit said.
Baez's brother, Luis Daniel Baez, 29, was also on the flight and
decided to go with his brother, according to the document.
The affidavit said the pair became belligerent as they were
walking toward the door, and Luiz Baez told the pilot he would have him
killed the next time he flies to San Juan.
The brothers left the aircraft, but then Jonathan Baez allegedly
returned and punched the pilot in the face, causing a large bruise and
lacerations, and blurring the vision in his left eye, the affidavit said.
A flight attendant tried to intervene and was hit in the shoulder.
The pilot then decided to escort the suspects on the jet bridge to
make sure they left the plane, the affidavit said, although Smith said the
pilot was actually walking to the gate to discuss flight logistics.
The brothers allegedly jumped on the pilot and started punching
his body and chest. They chased him into the terminal area and continued to
beat him, the affidavit said.
Flight crew members and other passengers were finally able to
subdue Jonathan Baez, who was arrested on suspicion of aggravated and simple
battery, and Luis Baez, who was arrested on suspicion of aggravated assault
Family Given Green Light
A federal appeals court in San Francisco gave a green light
Thursday to a police brutality lawsuit filed against the city of Oakland by
the family of a man who died of rib injuries after a police confrontation 11
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the mother and sister
of Jerry Amaro were not too late when they filed their civil lawsuit in 2009
because stonewalling and an alleged cover-up by Oakland police delayed them
in getting the information they needed.
Amaro, 36, died of pneumonia related to five rib fractures and a
punctured lung on April 21, 2000, a month after he was arrested by Oakland
police on suspicion of buying cocaine in an undercover sting.
He and his family alleged his ribs were broken in a beating by
several officers during the arrest on March 23, 2000.
Amaro was held in jail for five days after his arrest. The
family's lawsuit alleges that he repeatedly complained of pain and asked for
medical treatment both while being transported to jail and while there, but
was not seen by a doctor.
A police report on the arrest did not mention a beating.
But an internal police investigation later in 2000 concluded that
at least five officers used force on the 140-pound Amaro and said "there is
very little doubt Amaro was struck by officers during his arrest," according
to the court.
The report also concluded that officers were derelict in failing
to respond to Amaro's requests for medical treatment, the court said.
Information from the internal affairs report was withheld from
Amaro's mother and sister, Geraldine and Stephanie Montoya, however, and they
did not file the lawsuit until March 2009, after reading news reports of an
FBI investigation into the incident.
In Thursday's ruling, the appeals court upheld a federal trial
judge's decision that a two-year deadline for such lawsuits did not apply
because the delays were caused by the Police Department.
Circuit Judge Carlos Bea wrote, "The department's continued
stonewalling in refusing her request for department reports prevented Montoya
from appreciating the full nature of her claim."
Man Murdered After Giving Food To the Homeless
The murder of a man who was helping feed homeless people in East
Oakland "is an outrage," Oakland Police Chief Anthony Batts said Thursday.
Batts said 29-year-old Paris Powell, who was known on the streets
as "Brother John," was "trying to make a difference in the lives of homeless
Oakland Mayor Jean Quan said, "This one is not explainable at all.
I hope it was a case of mistaken identity."
Quan said she plans to meet with Powell's family to express her
Powell was pronounced dead at 10:25 p.m. Wednesday.
Oakland police said he was shot in an industrial area in the 1000
block of 47th Avenue at about 12:30 a.m. Wednesday while he, his wife and two
step-children, ages 3 and 7, were handing out food to homeless people.
At noon Thursday, there was a small vase with red and orange
flowers near the site where Powell was shot.
Powell's death was mourned by 61-year-old formerly homeless man
William Holloway, who witnessed the shooting incident and said Powell
regularly gave him food and checked up on him.
Holloway now works as a security guard at a pallet company in the
block where the shooting occurred. He also lives in a tiny two-room house on
the pallet company's property.
Holloway said Powell, his wife and step-children were in the midst
of giving him food when Powell was shot.
He said Powell and his family were in a Ford Aerostar van when a
young, light-skinned black man who was in a late model turquoise Ford
Aerostar van came around the corner and opened fire.
Oakland police have not provided a description of the suspect or
The suspect, who was alone, "fired three shots right away and then
fired two more after that," Holloway said.
Powell was shot in the face and "caught most of the bullets,"
Holloway said he ducked down to avoid getting hit and Powell's
wife and stepchildren started screaming after Powell was hit.
Woman Accused of Hotel Situation with Jeporday Host Appears at Court
A woman accused of burglarizing the San Francisco hotel room of
"Jeopardy" game show host Alex Trebek early Tuesday made her initial
appearance in court Thursday to face charges in the case.
Lucinda Moyers, 56, was arrested at the San Francisco Marriott
Marquis at 55 Fourth St. around 3 a.m. Tuesday after being detained by hotel
security guards, police said.
Trebek was in town filming the National Geographic World
Championship at Google headquarters in Mountain View.
Early Tuesday, he and his wife Jean were sleeping when he awoke to
find a woman inside their room, stealing property.
He got out of bed and began chasing her down the hotel's hallway
when his Achilles tendon ruptured and he fell "in an ignominious heap to the
carpeting," he told the audience at Google after he showed up on crutches to
San Francisco police responded and eventually took Moyers into
custody. She is believed to have stolen items including purses, wallets and
cash, and although officers found several of the items near a hotel ice
machine, no cash was recovered, according to police.
Moyers was charged with one count of residential burglary and one
count of possession of stolen property.
She appeared in San Francisco Superior Court Thursday to be
arraigned but did not enter a plea. The arraignment was delayed until Monday
while she is assigned an attorney with the public defender's office.
Moyers has two prior convictions for residential burglary in San
Francisco in 1990 and 1991, and served time in state prison for both,
district attorney's spokeswoman Erica Terry Derryck said.
Derryck said the district attorney has not yet decided whether to
prosecute the burglary as a three-strikes case.
Moyers is being held on $625,000 bail and was also ordered to stay
at least 150 yards away from Trebek and his wife.
Police Say They Recovered Gun Used By Harding
San Francisco police say they have recovered the gun used by
Kenneth Harding, the 19-year-old man who died in a shooting that involved
police in the Bayview District on July 16.
The .380-caliber semi-automatic pistol was recovered after a
Bayview resident led police to the gun following a weeklong community effort,
police said Thursday.
Harding died after he exchanged fire with police officers who were
conducting San Francisco Municipal Railway fare enforcement near Third and
Police said officers shot at Harding after he fired at them.
Police later said an autopsy showed that the bullet that killed
Harding did not come from a police gun, and that he appeared to have shot
They said video taken just after the shooting shows someone
picking up Harding's gun and walking away with it.
Ballistic tests conducted by the Police Department's crime lab
confirmed that the .380-caliber gun recovered by investigators is the gun
that fired the fatal shot, according to police.
Earlier in the investigation, police recovered a .45-caliber gun
at a local parolee's house that they initially believed was Harding's gun.
Bay Area Needs to Invest Money Into Infrastructure
The Bay Area needs to invest an additional $2.83 billion in
infrastructure annually in order to meet residents' needs and avert further
disrepair, according to a report released Thursday by the American Society of
Civil Engineers' San Francisco section.
The 2011 "Report Card for Bay Area Infrastructure" rated
categories such as transit, parks and water, and gave the region an overall
grade of "C."
Mike Kincaid, chairman of the report card committee, said at a
news conference Thursday that a "B" grade would be considered the minimum
"We are here because we believe we can't ignore infrastructure any
longer," Kincaid said.
He said the public has come to expect that roads will be drivable,
toilets will flush, water will be clean, and streets will not flood. But if
officials do not reprioritize infrastructure, these assumptions will not hold
true, he said.
"We are aware there are other needs for funds, but if we fail to
fund this $2.8 billion now, it will be $14 billion in five years," Kincaid
The report card committee gave the Bay Area the highest marks in
aviation, for which it earned a "B."
Water received a "B-," transit a "C," and bridges and wastewater
were each given a "C+". Parks were given a "C-," while the lowest marks went
to roadways, goods movement and urban stormwater, all of which received "D+"
The society of civil engineers, which also evaluates other
metropolitan areas in the U.S., released its last infrastructure report card
for the Bay Area in 2005, when the overall grade given to the region was a
San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee released a statement saying the report
"illustrates the dire and deteriorating condition of so much of our
infrastructure here in the Bay Area."