SF News

San Francisco Bay Area Saturday News

Federal Parole Agents Failed to Adequately Supervice Philip Garrido

A detailed report released Thursday recognizes that federal parole agents failed to adequately supervise Phillip Garrido leading up to and during the time he kidnapped Jaycee Dugard and held her captive in a backyard compound at his house outside Antioch. The report was from the Administrative Office of the United States Courts. James Ware, chief judge of the United States District Court, Northern District of California, said he received the confidential report in February. "As Chief Judge, I believe that the strength of our public institutions is tied directly to their openness to public scrutiny," Ware wrote as his reason for making the full report public. "We are using its candid criticism and the public scrutiny that comes from it as tools to improve the administration of justice in our district." According to the report, Garrido, now 60, kidnapped a 25-year-old woman in South Lake Tahoe in 1976, took her to a storage shed in Reno, Nev., and repeatedly raped her. He was sentenced in 1977 to 50 years in federal prison for the kidnapping and five years to life in state prison for the rape. After serving 11 years in federal prison, the United States Parole Commission granted Garrido parole and he was sent to Nevada to begin serving his state sentence.

In 1988, he was released on lifetime parole. He was classified as "high risk" and placed under the supervision of federal parole agents. He went to live with his wife and mother at a house on Walnut Avenue in an unincorporated Contra Costa County just outside Antioch. According to the report, Garrido was described as a "time bomb" in a conversation between his parole agent and a counselor in 1988. Also in 1988, his psychiatrist said he was "like a pot boiling with no outlet valve." In 1989, Garrido's therapist said that she believed Garrido "is close to going off," but his parole agent didn't have any personal contact with Garrido for four months after the statement was made. On June 10, 1991, Garrido and his wife Nancy Garrido, now 55, kidnapped 11-year-old Dugard from a school bus stop in front of her home in South Lake Tahoe. They took her to their home and held her captive for the next 18 years, where they kept her hidden in a series of makeshift tents and sheds in the backyard. During Dugard's captivity, Garrido repeatedly raped her and she gave birth to two daughters fathered by him. The daughters never went to school or saw a doctor, police said. Her presence was not discovered until Aug. 26, 2009, after a University of California, Berkeley police officer saw Garrido on campus with two young girls and thought their behavior was suspicious.

Picasso Thief Charged

A 30-year-old New Jersey man has been charged with stealing a Pablo Picasso drawing from a San Francisco gallery, according to the district attorney's office. Mark Lugo, of Hoboken, N.J., was charged Friday with one felony count of grand theft and one felony count of second-degree burglary. He is scheduled to be arraigned Monday at 1:30 p.m. Lugo remains in custody. His bail has been set at $5 million. Lugo was arrested Wednesday in Napa after police used surveillance footage and eyewitness accounts to track him to a hotel in San Francisco, and then to an apartment in Napa. At about 11:40 a.m. Tuesday, Lugo allegedly walked into the Weinstein Gallery at 383 Geary St. and took a pencil-on-paper drawing titled "Tete de Femme," valued at about $275,000, and fled in a waiting taxicab, police said. Officers were able to track down the cab and learned that its driver took Lugo to the Hotel Palomar at Market and Fourth streets where he was staying, police Lt. Ed Santos said. Lugo had flown in from New Jersey on Monday, and was found Wednesday night at the Napa apartment, where he was with two friends he knew from the East Coast, Santos said. The painting was in good condition but had been taken out of the frame, and it looked like Lugo was preparing to have it shipped somewhere, according to Santos. The friends did not appear to know that Lugo had stolen the drawing and were not arrested, he said. Lefty O'Doul's, a restaurant and bar located just down the street from the art gallery, captured video footage of the alleged thief on a surveillance camera outside the building, and police acknowledged Friday that the footage helped identify Lugo.

SF Lawyer Indicted

A former San Francisco lawyer who became a self-proclaimed investment manager has been indicted in federal court in the city on charges of defrauding friends and relatives of $7 million. Robert G. Tunnell, 72, of San Francisco, was indicted by a federal grand jury Thursday on seven counts of mail fraud, 13 counts of wire fraud and one count of money laundering. Tunnell, a graduate of Dartmouth College and Harvard Law School, practiced law in California from 1971 to 2001. He resigned from the State Bar in 2001 amid charges that he had stolen $300,000 from his law firm, according to the indictment.

The indictment alleges that Tunnell "subsequently held himself out as a high successful investor" and persuaded friends and family members to let him manage their investments. Instead, the indictment alleges, Tunnell operated a Ponzi scheme in which he lost $7 million entrusted to him between 2006 and his arrest June 23, 2011.

The indictment alleges Tunnell obtained a total of $10 million from investors during that time and used about $3 million to repay some of the investors, leaving his clients with a total loss of $7 million. The document alleges he defrauded clients by failing to tell them he resigned from the State Bar amid charges of theft; falsely telling them he was putting their money in conservative, safe investments; falsely reporting phony gains; and failing to tell them he was using their money to repay other investors. "During that time period," the indictment alleges, "Tunnell consistently represented to his investors, among other things, that he was achieving steady gains in his investors' accounts based on his conservative, low-risk investments. "In fact, however, Tunnell used his investors' money to engage in commodity trading and other risky trading, through which he lost approximately $7 million of his investors' money," the indictment said. Thursday's indictment replaces a criminal complaint filed under seal against Tunnell on June 22. Following his June 23 arrest, he was released June 24 by U.S. Magistrate Elizabeth Laporte on $10 million bail, secured by a $2 million property bond posted by his son. Tunnell was arraigned on the indictment before U.S. Magistrate Maria-Elena James on Friday and ordered to appear before U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer on Aug. 10, according to U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag.

The mail and wire fraud counts each carry a potential sentence of up to 20 years in prison if Tunnell is convicted. The wire fraud count has a maximum 10-year sentence. The indictment also seeks forfeiture of funds and property derived from any of the alleged crimes of which Tunnell is convicted.

Pittsburg Man in Critical Condition After Being Shot in the Head

A 20-year-old Pittsburg man remains in critical condition after being shot in the head Wednesday night on the Delta de Anza Trail in Pittsburg, a police lieutenant said. A passerby heard what sounded like a gunshot at about 8:30 p.m. on the trail near Atlantic Avenue and Harbor Street and saw a man lying on the ground, police Lt. Ron Raman said. The witness ran to a nearby MacDonald's restaurant and called police, Raman said. Officers arrived within minutes and found the victim lying on the ground with a gunshot wound to the back of his head, Raman said.

Officers performed CPR until paramedics arrived and transported him to Sutter Delta Medical Center in Antioch. He was then transferred to John Muir Medical Center in Walnut Creek, where he remained on life support Friday, Raman said. Investigators believe that the victim may have been involved in a feud in Antioch and was shot at several days earlier. He had reportedly been taking refuge in Pittsburg, Raman said. Investigators are working with Antioch police to determine the nature of the alleged feud and who was involved in it. They were also trying to find out what brought the victim to the trail Wednesday night, but no suspects have been identified.

Two Men Charged for Sebastopol Man's Death

Two men charged in connection with the stabbing death of a Sebastopol man in Guerneville on Wednesday were arraigned Friday afternoon in Sonoma County Superior Court. Kevin Anthony Payne Jr., 22, a Los Angeles resident, and James Larry Lewis, 35, of Guerneville, delayed entering pleas and will return to court July 15. Payne is charged with killing 31-year-old Elijah Lockhart and Lewis is charged with being an accessory. Payne is being held without bail in the Sonoma County jail. He has a misdemeanor battery case involving another alleged victim pending in Sonoma County Superior Court, and there were two misdemeanor warrants for his arrest at the time of the slaying, Deputy District Attorney Brian Staebell said. Judge Ken Gnoss raised Lewis' bail to $100,000 after Staebell said Lewis provided the knife and concealed it from law enforcement after the stabbing. The knife was recovered at the scene. Lewis also has two prior prison commitments, Staebell said.

Lockhart was stabbed in the chest after an altercation with Payne and Lewis on the Guerneville pedestrian bridge, Sonoma County sheriff's Lt. Tim Duke said. He staggered to the First Street plaza and collapsed. Staebell said the nature of the dispute is under investigation. A sheriff's deputy from the Russian River sub-station arrived within a minute of the call about the stabbing and gave Lockhart CPR, sheriff's Lt. Tim Duke said.

The Monte Rio Fire Protection District and ambulance crews arrived and prepared to take Lockhart to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital, but he died in the ambulance, Duke said. Outside court, Lockhart's mother, Sheila Lockhart, of Sebastopol, questioned whether life-saving measures were quick or adequate enough, and she said wants to file a wrongful death suit against the sheriff's office and other responders. Monte Rio Fire Protection District Chief Steve Baxman said a sheriff's deputy started chest compressions on Lockhart immediately.

"It couldn't have been quicker," Baxman said. Baxman said he took over chest compressions while paramedics gave Lockhart fluids. Baxman said he was driving the ambulance while four paramedics worked on Lockhart, but Lockhart died about halfway to the hospital. "I'm sorry she lost her son, but don't take it out on the people who tried to save you son's life," Baxman said. I stand by everything we did. We've got nothing to be ashamed of," Baxman said.

Sheila Lockhart said her son was going swimming in the Russian River and she and her daughter were in Guerneville to pick him up. She said they were delayed about 20 minutes because they stopped to fix their tires, and when they arrived, her son was laying in a pool of blood in the plaza. "If we hadn't done that, we would have been there for him," she said. "The last thing he did was he held out his hand to me and said, 'Help mom'," she said. "He was my first and only son."

Golden Gate Ferry Discontinues Daily Ticket Office Staffing

Golden Gate Ferry is discontinuing daily staffing of their ticket offices in Larkspur and San Francisco, according to Golden Gate Bridge Highway and Transportation District officials. The change will eliminate seven full-time ticket agent positions, though five employees have already been placed in new jobs within the organization. District officials hope to place the remaining two employees in new jobs, as well, according to Mary Currie, Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District spokeswoman.

Tickets will be available from automated ticket vending machines that have been operational for several months at ferry terminals. "For us this is a cost saving and an efficiency change," Currie said. Some ferry tickets will not be available from the automated machine, such as tickets to AT&T Park. The Larkspur ticket office will be open on San Francisco Giants game days, and tickets will also be available at the Giants Dugout store, or on the Internet. The new ticket machines will also offer Clipper cards, though not discounted youth and senior cards. Those will be available at several other Bay Area locations. More information is available at www.goldengate.org.

Oakland City Employees' New Contracts Approved

All five of Oakland's major city employee unions have approved new contracts with concessions that contribute $23 million toward closing the city's $58 million budget gap, Mayor Jean Quan said. "I want to thank every city employee and bargaining unit for their cooperation and sacrifice during this difficult transition as we implement the new budget," Quan said in a statement Friday.

The last union to announce that it has approved a new contract is Service Employees Union Local 1021, which represents about 1,400 public works, parks and recreation and City Hall workers. Local 1021 spokesman Carlos Rivera said many of the union's members were reluctant to contribute more to their pension costs and have more furlough days but in the end the union approved the contract by a narrow margin of 53 percent to 27 percent. Earlier Friday, Oakland Firefighters Local 55 President Chuck Garcia, said firefighters voted by a margin of more than two-to-one, by 242 to 104 to approve concessions that include taking an 8.85 percent pay cut for each of the next three years and giving up two vacation days annually. In addition, newly hired firefighters will have to work until age 55 to get their full retirement benefits, instead of the current age of 50.

Firefighters will continue to contribute 13 percent of their retirement costs, Garcia said, in return for a provision that they won't be laid off. Garcia said he had been nervous about whether his union's members would approve the concessions because "they are not happy about what they are giving up." But he said, "Our members understand the city is in serious financial difficulty and had to help out." The agreement extends the firefighters current agreement, which was to expire next year, until 2014. Firefighters agreed to reopen their contract so it could be modified, Garcia said. On Thursday, the union that represents Oakland's 636 police officers approved making concessions by what its leaders said was an overwhelming margin, although the exact numbers were released. Earlier, concessions were approved by members of Professional and Technical Engineers Local 21 and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 1245.

Quan said, "Both Police and Firefighters came to the table even though their contracts were not open yet. The significant contributions from all of our employees allow us to preserve city services, help us prepare Oakland for better days and move forward as a city." Quan said that now that the contracts have been ratified, the city is implementing its budget, which calls for 214 positions to be cut.

Tenants of SF's Parkmerced Apartments Deliver Referendum

Tenants of San Francisco's Parkmerced apartments delivered a referendum to the city's Department of Elections on Friday afternoon on a plan to add thousands of apartments and demolish others at the complex. The San Francisco Tenants Union and other supporters are trying to stop the plan by developers to add about 5,700 apartments and replace about 1,800 others during the next two to three decades at the large complex at 19th and Holloway avenues. The tenants say the plan would displace them and get rid of rent-controlled housing. The board of supervisors approved the plan last month by a 6-5 vote after adding some tenant protections into the agreement. The petition being delivered by a small group of tenants to the Department of Elections at City Hall would put a referendum on the November ballot to let city voters decide whether they support or oppose the plan as approved by the board, said Ted Gullicksen, director of the tenants union. The referendum would suspend work on the project until the vote in November, Gullicksen said. He said the petition has about 19,000 signatures, more than the roughly 14,300 needed to place the measure on the ballot. "The key issue here is we need to preserve as much rent-controlled housing as we possibly can," Gullicksen said. "They're basically demolishing an entire neighborhood.

Fairfield Man Arrested for Drug Violation

A Fairfield man who was arrested for a drug violation near where a double homicide occurred in unincorporated Vallejo in May was arrested for his alleged involvement in the murders Friday, according to the Solano County Sheriff's Office. Patrick Eugene Alley, 44, was arrested on suspicion of murdering Ramone Hatfield, 30, of Los Angeles, and 29-year-old Sean Pierre Riley of Santa Rosa, sheriff's Lt. Faulkner said. Both men were shot. He will be booked in the Solano County jail on two counts of murder and held without bail, Faulkner said. Sheriff's deputies responded around 10:50 p.m. on May 10 to a report of shots fired in the area of Woodrow and Reis avenues.

They found one of the two murder victims in the driver's seat of a white Ford Taurus in the middle of the street near 20 Reis Ave., Faulkner said. The body of the second victim was found around midnight in the driveway of a nearby home on Reis Avenue. At 9 a.m. May 11, a woman told deputies processing the crime scene that she found a man in her garage on Reis Avenue, Faulkner said. Deputies found Alley and arrested him for possession of illegal drugs. He was booked into the Solano County jail. At the tine, Faulkner said there was no evidence linking Alley to the homicides, but Alley's presence in the neighborhood "would be closely examined" by detectives.

San Francisco Rec and Parks Dept. Unveils Improvements to Golden Gate Park

The San Francisco Recreation and Park Department unveiled improvements to Golden Gate Park's Carrousel Plaza on Friday. The renovations were funded with $960,000 from Proposition 40 grants and $300,000 in Open Space funds. The construction on Carrousel Plaza replaced the asphalt plaza with colored concrete, stonewalls and stairs, a trash and recycling storage area, and landscaping work.

The Recreation and Park Department has received nearly $50 million from the state of California for improvements to Golden Gate Park from Proposition 40, a 2002 statewide ballot initiative for improvements to parks and environmental protection. On the west end of the plaza a new staircase was added, which included tile work provided by staff and patrons from the adjacent Sharon Art Studio, which provides art classes for children, adults and seniors. The handmade tiles include abstract designs, memorials for lost pets, tributes to the San Francisco Giants, and pictures of cupcakes and ice cream. The improvements to the Carrousel Plaza follow major renovations to the nearby children's playground in 2007. The Proposition 40 grants have largely gone to the playground renovations, as well as new restrooms and a nearby lawn bowling area. A third phase of planned renovations will turn the existing barn space into a birthday party and picnic area that could be rented for private parties.

Sen. Leno Honors Cal-Con Pumping LLC as Small Business of the Year

State Sen. Mark Leno honored Cal-Con Pumping LLC on Friday as Small Business of the Year in District 3, which encompasses Marin County, parts of Sonoma County and San Francisco. The Presidio-based company provides concrete pouring services for construction projects. They have participated in projects like San Francisco General Hospital and the San Francisco Public Utilities Building. Cal-Con Pumping was recently awarded $2.95 million in contracts for the Doyle Street Replacement Project, improving the southern approach to the Golden Gate Bridge, according to Leno's office. "The Doyle Street project has been a blessing.

We've been able to buy new equipment and hire new staff," said Cal-Con Pumping CEO Julie Berry. "In the recession, this has just been a successful story," she said. Cal-Con Pumping uses heavy machinery requiring precise operating engineers to disperse large amounts of concrete. When the company was founded in 2007, they had only one truck but now they have six trucks and employ 10 full-time employees. Leno said he chose Cal-Con Pumping because of its record of success, ability to handle large important contracts, and because of the strides that a woman-owned business has made in the male-dominated construction industry.

"There are certainly a lot of great local small businesses to make such a selection, but Julie Berry and Cal-Con Pumping stand out as a local success story. Certainly the fact that she has drive in what is traditionally a male-dominated industry makes her success all the more notable," Leno said. "Also uncommon is the ability in which she has been able to win large contracts that often elude small businesses. When public projects are issuing contracts, we want more of those contracts to locally owned small businesses," Leno added. Berry said she is excited by the honor. "The recognition means a lot to me, means a lot to my staff, and means a lot to my family. It's been tough during these economic times but we've been very successful, I'm very glad to be honored and recognized by Sen. Leno," Berry said.

Campbell-based Coulomb Technologies Helps Electric Vehicle Drivers

Campbell-based Coulomb Technologies is helping electric vehicle drivers find charging stations more efficiently and spreading the use of electric vehicles worldwide. The company launched a new smartphone app Friday that would assist drivers in finding charging stations and informing them what stations are vacant. According to Coulomb Technologies officials, their infrastructure provides power to more than 20,000 charging sessions a month. Drivers charge their vehicles for an average of eight hours a session, so knowing which stations are occupied is potentially extremely valuable to electric vehicle owners. The ChargePoint Network, started by Coulomb in 2009, provides electric charging stations in 14 countries.

Bay Area Weather

The Bay Area is expected to be mostly cloudy with patchy fog this morning, becoming partly cloudy, with highs near 60.

It is expected to be mostly cloudy this evening, with patchy fog and drizzle expected after midnight, with lows in the lower 50s. Sunday is expected to be mostly cloudy with patchy fog and drizzle in the morning, becoming partly cloudy, with highs in the upper 50s to mid 60s.

San Francisco Bay Area Friday News Roundup

Small Plane Crashes in Watsonville Medical Building, 2 Killed

Two people were killed when a small plane crashed into a medical office building in Watsonville Thursday evening, according to an FAA spokesman and a Watsonville Community Hospital spokeswoman. The crash occurred at about 7:30 p.m., and local authorities have confirmed two fatalities involving people aboard the single-engine Mooney, FAA spokesman Lynn Lunsford said. Lunsford said that it appears the aircraft, which was registered in Santa Cruz, had departed Watsonville Municipal Airport just before it crashed. The hospital campus is adjacent to the airport. Hospital spokeswoman Cindy Weigelt said that the Watsonville Community Hospital building is separate from the medical office building and was not affected by the crash. Weigelt said that the fire department responded immediately and extinguished a fire related to the crash. A call to the Watsonville fire department was not immediately returned. All areas of the hospital remain operational, including the emergency room, according to Weigelt, and she said that the hospital was continuing to focus on the care of its patients. All hospital patients, employees and visitors are safe, Weigelt said. FAA and National Transportation Safety Board investigators were notified and were traveling to the scene, Lunsford said.


2 Survivors of Capsized Boat in Baja California Heading Home to San Jose

Two men who survived a boat capsizing off the Baja California coast are heading home to the San Jose area, the wife of one of the men said Thursday. Lee Ikegami is one of the Bay Area fishermen who was able to get to shore after a boat operated by the fishing excursion company Baja Sportfishing Inc. sank Sunday at 2:30 a.m. in the Sea of Cortez near Isla San Luis, Mexico. Ikegami's wife, Murphy Ikegami, who lives in San Martin, said her husband and his Bay Area fishing buddy Michael Ng are on a Greyhound bus that will arrive in San Jose early this morning. "Lee is so happy to be coming home," she said. The two had been driving a truck from a hotel where they had been recuperating in San Felipe, Mexico, but the truck broke down near the U.S.-Mexico border, she said. State Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, had been helping to arrange a flight for the two men, but they decided "easiest thing to do was to go to a Greyhound station," she said. "They are exhausted." One man, Leslie Yee, died after the boat capsized. The U.S. Coast Guard and Mexican navy are continuing to search for seven missing men.


Oakland Police Union Overwhelmingly Approves Concessions, Including Paying 9% of Pension Costs

Members of the union that represents Oakland's 636 police officers have voted by an "overwhelming" margin to approve concessions that include paying 9 percent of their pension costs, the union's leadership announced Thursday. Oakland Police Officer's Association President Dom Arotzarena said about three-fourths of the union's membership voted on the concessions and a strong majority of those who voted approved the concessions, although he did not release exact figures. Arotzarena said the union's current contract does not expire until 2013, but he said it agreed to reopen it and work on a revised contract that will last until June 30, 2015, "because we realized that the city is facing a huge financial crisis." He said Oakland police officers "are digging deep in their pockets in this time of need" and the concessions mean they will be taking home $9,000 to $15,000 less a year. The concessions will save Oakland about $65 million over the next four years, Arotzarena said. In addition to contributing 9 percent of their pension costs, the officers agreed to delay previously negotiated cost-of-living increases until 2014 and give up two holidays per year through 2015. The agreement also calls for entry-level pay for new hires to be reduced by 10 percent and for the retirement age for new officers to be raised to 55 instead of the current retirement age of 50. In return for the police union's concessions, the city, which laid off 80 officers last year, agreed not to lay off any more officers or have any officer furloughs for the next four years. Arotzarena said, "Our concern was that our officers gave up so much that we wanted job security for them so they can come to work and have a job."


SF Civil Grand Jury Calls for SFMTA to Overhaul Central Subway Project

Inefficient Design, Costs Will Deterioriate Transit Service

A San Francisco Civil Grand Jury called for the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency to overhaul its Central Subway project because of its inefficient design and costs that will negatively affect current transit service, according to a report the panel released Thursday. The Central Subway project, which will create a new branch of the San Francisco Munipal Railway's T-Third line, is designed to run north along Fourth Street from Brannan Street before going underground at Interstate Highway 80, with subway stops at Moscone Center, Union Square and Chinatown. But in the report, the grand jury, a panel picked to investigate the city's government, concluded that the current design lacks connectivity to the rest of Muni's service and to commercial hubs in the Financial District and Chinatown. The report criticized what it called "The Walk," a 1,000-foot underground trek that commuters will have to make to get from the Union Square stop to Muni Metro service on Market Street, and pointed out that if the subway is built on Kearny Street, rather than Washington Street as currently proposed, it could serve more people. The grand jury also noted that the 1.7-mile extension is "breathtakingly expensive," nearly $1.6 billion, or $176,000 per foot of construction, and could be even more expensive if affected by many of the delays that have plagued other Muni projects in the past. The subway is expected to be operational by 2019. The report concluded that the costs are likely to affect current Muni service, which it noted has not been able to meet voter-mandated on-time performance requirements and is struggling with large budget deficits. The SFMTA has an annual structural budget deficit of $150 million, an agency official told the grand jury, and is already having trouble paying to maintain its current fleet of buses and light-rail vehicles. Muni spokesman Paul Rose said, "We appreciate the Civil Grand Jury's interest in the Central Subway project" and said while the report "is comprehensive, it does not say anything new about the challenges we face in regards to serving nearly 700,000 riders each weekday."


2 Found Dead in Murder-Suicide after 7-Hour Standoff in Watsonville

Two men were found dead in what appears to be a murder-suicide at a Watsonville home on Wednesday night after a nearly seven-hour police standoff. Police are not yet naming the men, pending notification of their family, but said they are related and lived at a house in the first block of Lawrence Street. Around 5:40 p.m. on Wednesday, police received a call from a relative reporting a domestic disturbance at the house, but the caller did not indicate that any weapons were involved, Deputy Police Chief Rudy Escalante said. Officers arrived at the home about five minutes later and a man answered the door. An officer talked to him through a screen door for a while and then convinced him to come outside, Escalante said. The officer noticed that the man had a hand injury and asked him whether anybody else was inside the house and if they needed medical attention. The man told the officer there was someone inside and that he had been shot, and then ran back inside. The officer followed him and saw a man lying on the floor in the living room with a "significant amount of blood" around his head, Escalante said. He said the man appeared to be dead. The man who answered the door then ran into another room. When the officer tried to go after him, the man shut a door in the officer's face, Escalante said. He said the man started firing shots through the closed door and that the officer returned fire and started "running for his life." Other officers, including emergency personnel and Santa Cruz County sheriff's deputies, responded and surrounded the house, Escalante said. For nearly six hours, the officers tried to establish contact with the suspect, but there was no response. An attempt to use audio and video devices to find him was unsuccessful. Then, around 12:30 a.m., a sheriff's SWAT team entered the house and found two people, including the suspect, dead on the living room floor. Each had suffered a single gunshot wound to the head, Escalante said.


Defense for MS-13 Gang Question Credibility of Informant Witness

Defense lawyers at the trial of seven MS-13 gang members in federal court in San Francisco Thursday sought to chip away at the credibility of an informant who once called himself the prosecution's "superstar" witness. The seven members of a San Francisco branch of the violent MS-13, or Mara Salvatrucha, gang are all accused of racketeering conspiracy and murder conspiracy. Three are also charged with a total of four gunfire murders carried out on San Francisco streets in 2008. The trial began in the court of U.S. District Judge William Alsup in April and is expected to continue until next month. Defense attorneys have claimed that informants and other former gang members who became prosecution witnesses lack credibility. They also contend that in some instances, the informants illegally instructed the defendants to commit violent crimes. In Thursday's session, the attorneys recalled informant Jaime Martinez, who previously testified for the prosecution, to the stand. The Salvadoran-born Martinez was a leader of the MS-13 branch known as the 20th Street Clique, which was based at 20th and Mission streets in San Francisco. He became an informant in early 2006 after being arrested on a gun charge. In July 2008, Martinez was himself indicted on a federal charge of racketeering conspiracy. He pleaded guilty in a bargain in which he agreed to continue cooperating with prosecutors in exchange for a lenient sentence recommendation. Under questioning from Mark Rosenbush, a lawyer for defendant Moris Flores, Martinez Thursday acknowledged making the "superstar" comment in a jail phone call to a federal agent on Aug. 11, 2008. At the time, Martinez was trying to persuade authorities to move him from Marin County Jail, where he was being held in administrative segregation, to a different facility. He acknowledged to Rosenbush that he told an Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent in the phone call, "I don't think you guys want your superstar to be stressing out."


San Bruno Family Accused of Battery of Police Officers Please Not Guilty

Four San Bruno family members who were accused of beating up several police officers on the Fourth of July have pleaded not guilty to battery charges in San Mateo Superior Court. The alleged attack occurred when two officers taking part in a countywide fireworks abatement patrol on Independence Day saw an M-1000 firecracker tossed from an apartment complex land underneath their car, District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said. When the officers approached a group of people standing nearby, 30-year-old Wendell Rapada took off running, according to the district attorney's office. The officers caught up with Rapada on an upstairs balcony, where he allegedly punched them both in the face and tried to escape. During the struggle, Rapada's 27-year-old cousin, Crystal Rapada, allegedly came out of an apartment and joined in, punching and kicking both officers. His 58-year-old father, Ephraim Rapada, allegedly grabbed one of the officers and tried to push him off the balcony, which was about 13 feet high, Wagstaffe said. Another of Rapada's cousins, 25-year-old Ervin Rapada, also joined in the fight, according to the district attorney. One of the officers reported that he began to lose consciousness and felt one of the attackers try to take his gun out of its holster. A third officer who arrived to provide backup was allegedly punched in the face several times by Ervin Rapada, the district attorney said. Several more officers responded to the scene, and eventually the four family members were taken into custody. Two officers suffered black eyes and cuts on their faces, Wagstaffe said. A third officer was taken to a hospital with a concussion. All four Rapadas were charged with five counts of battery on a police officer and resisting arrest. Ephraim and Crystal Rapada are out of custody on $75,000 bail. Ervin Rapada is out of custody on $50,000 bail. Wendell Rapada remains in custody on a no-bail probation violation hold from a 2010 felony illegal possession of a firearm case.


Superior Court Judge: Alleged Serial Killer Joseph Naso Has Right to Advisory Counsel 

Marin County Superior Court Judge Andrew Sweet said Thursday afternoon that alleged serial killer Joseph Naso has the right to have advisory counsel even though he is representing himself. Sweet said, however, it must be determined if Naso has the ability to pay for an advisory attorney. Naso, 77, is charged with killing four Northern California women between 1977 and 1994. He wants a public defender attorney to be his advisory counsel at public expense. Naso claims he is indigent because his assets have been impounded. Marin County District Attorney Ed Berberian claims Naso has $1 million in liquid assets and can also access $150,000 that was seized by the Nevada Dept of Public Safety from his Reno home if he requests the money in writing. Deputy District Attorney Dori Ahana told the judge Naso is not entitled to advisory counsel because he is not indigent given that his impounded assets are still accessible. The judge ordered a county public defender to meet with Naso in jail to determine if Naso can afford advisory counsel. The next hearing on the issue is scheduled for July 26.


2 Homicide Victims Found in Pot Growing Operation in Napa

Two male homicide victims were found in a marijuana growing operation in rural hills west of Rutherford, the Napa County Sheriff's Office said Thursday. The bodies were found on private property on July 1, sheriff's Capt. Tracey Stuart said. The marijuana was growing without the property owner's knowledge or consent, Stuart said. Napa Special Investigations Bureau agents familiar with the area found the bodies in the growing operation that contained 3,000 immature plants that were about 2 feet tall, Stuart said. The identities of the victims have not been confirmed but they are not related to the property owners, Stuart said. The narcotics agents eradicated the marijuana operation, believed to be part of a larger Mexican drug trade operation, on July 6, Stuart said. The gardens were concealed by the natural vegetation on the hillside, Stuart said. The sheriff's office is interviewing "tons of people" who are involved in marijuana growing in Napa County, Stuart said. "They are definitely getting more violent and armed," Stuart said of the growers. Marijuana growing operations are typically found near Lake Berryessa and in rural areas on the east and west sides of Napa Valley, Stuart said.


Capitola Woman Died of Injuries from Collision with Skateboarder

A Capitola woman died Tuesday as a result of injuries sustained after a skateboarder collided with her as she was crossing the street. Maryanne Slettehaugh, 83, was pronounced dead at 11:42 p.m. after being knocked unconscious by the collision with a 17-year-old male riding a skateboard, according to Capitola police. The skateboarder, who has not been named by authorities, was riding down Cliff Drive toward Capitola Village as Slettehaugh was crossing the Stockton Avenue bridge at a pedestrian crosswalk. Police estimated he was traveling at about 15 to 20 mph. Traffic was backed up on Cliff Drive, and a large truck had stopped to allow Slettehaugh to cross the road. Slettehaugh had just stepped in front of the bicycle lane when the skateboarder collided with her at about 3:10 p.m., knocking her unconscious. The skateboarder stopped to assist her until medical personnel arrived, according to police. Slettehaugh was transported by helicopter to Valley Medical Center in San Jose, where she died from her injuries, according to police. Duane Dietz, an employee of the Capitola Venetian Hotel, witnessed the immediate aftermath of the accident. "I saw it out of the corner of my eye, heard the skateboard, heard yelling and looked up," he said. He said from his perspective it appeared that the skateboarder's vision as he rode down the bicycle lane was obstructed by a truck waiting in traffic. He said the skateboarder appeared distraught and tried to help Slettehaugh. "He was pretty upset; he was trying to help her. At least he didn't try to take off. I felt bad for him," he said. Police are currently investigating the incident. Slettehaugh's husband, George, 83, said he hopes that charges will be filed. "I would hope they would do something," he said. George and Maryanne Slettehaugh met in junior high school, dated through high school, and were married in 1947. Originally from Minneapolis, they have lived in Capitola for the last 31 years.


Caltrain Strikes, Kills Woman in Palo Alto

A person was struck and killed by a train in Palo Alto Thursday night about one-half mile north of the Churchill Avenue crossing, a Caltrain spokeswoman said. The person, whom Caltrain spokeswoman Christine Dunn said was "a trespasser on the tracks," was struck at about 8:40 p.m. by southbound train No. 190. Dunn said that the local train had been making all stops and had originally departed San Francisco at 7:30 p.m. Dunn said the agency established a bus bridge between California Avenue in Palo Alto and Menlo Park at 9 p.m. and that the 175 passengers aboard the affected train were transferred to another southbound train at 9:22 p.m.

Father Kidnaps Own Son - According to SF Police

A man who was arrested on suspicion of kidnapping a woman's infant son in San Francisco's Marina District early this morning likely will not face criminal charges in the case after the woman confirmed that he is the child's father, a police spokesman said today.

The 10-month-old boy was reportedly taken at about 4 a.m. near the intersection of Lombard and Pierce streets after the 38-year-old man and 24-year-old woman got into an argument, police said.

The man took the boy, and was subsequently taken into custody, according to police. The child was found safe.

Although the man was booked into county jail in connection with the incident, the case is being handled as a domestic dispute and not a kidnapping, Lt. Troy Dangerfield said.

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Muni Bus Antennae Comes Loose, Breaks Window

Muni Bus Antennae Wrecks Havoc

As reported by SFist this morning, an antennae of a Muni bus on the 30-Stockton line popped loose and smashed a window of a nearby apartment.





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Disabled Big-Rig Blocking Two Lanes Of Eb I-80

A disabled big-rig and the portable building it was hauling are blocking two lanes of eastbound Interstate Highway 80 in San Francisco this morning, according to the California Highway Patrol.

The No. 2 and No. 3 lanes just west of Seventh Street are closed as the CHP and Caltrans work to remove the big-rig and its load, CHP Officer Peter Van Eckhardt said.

A second big-rig is headed to the scene to remove the portable building, but it is not expected arrive before 8:30 a.m., he said.

With only one lane of traffic open, the CHP is advising motorists to find an alternate route.

Motorists headed to the East Bay are advised to use the San Mateo Bridge instead.

Van Eckhardt said the big-rig's driver apparently lost control around 6:20 a.m.

It is not clear why, but Van Eckhardt said the truck might have had a flat tire.

A Sig-alert was issued at about 6:30 a.m.



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Police Arrest Suspect In Picasso Drawing Theft

San Francisco police have arrested a man suspected of stealing a Picasso drawing worth hundreds of thousands of dollars from a Union Square art gallery earlier this week.

Police have not released any details about the suspect, but the arrest comes after a surveillance video from a nearby restaurant surfaced that shows a man walking down Geary Street with a framed piece of artwork under his arm.

The thief walked into Weinstein Gallery at 383 Geary St. and took a pencil-on-paper drawing titled "Tete de Femme" at about 11:40 a.m. Tuesday before getting into a waiting taxicab, police said.

Lefty O'Doul's restaurant, which is just a few doors down from the gallery, showed its surveillance footage to police and the news media Wednesday.

The video shows a man wearing a grayish jacket, light pants and loafers walking briskly down the sidewalk.

Witnesses described the suspect as a white man about 6 feet tall, between 32 and 35 years old, wearing a dark jacket, light shirt, dark pants, loafers with no socks, and large sunglasses.

Police do not know whether the thief targeted the drawing, which measures about 8 inches by 11 inches, or randomly pulled one off the wall, Officer Albie Esparza said.

San Francisco police will be providing more details about the arrest at a news conference at 10 a.m. today.

Those with information about the theft are encouraged to call San Francisco police at (415) 575-4444 or send a text message to TIP411.

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San Francisco Bay Area Thursday News Roundup

Left O'Doul's Catches Art Thief Leaving Weinstein Gallery on Camera

A well-known San Francisco restaurant might have surveillance video of a thief who walked into a Union Square art gallery on Tuesday morning and walked out with a Picasso drawing worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. Lefty O'Doul's restaurant is next door to the main showroom of the Weinstein Gallery, located at the corner of Geary and Powell streets, where the thief took the sketch at about 11:40 a.m. Tuesday before getting in a taxicab, according to the gallery and police. Lefty's owner Nick Bovis said that when he learned last night that a distinctively dressed man had walked out with a 1965 Picasso sketch called "Tete de Femme," he checked his tapes and quickly homed in on a suspect. "We've never seen anything like it," he said. The footage shows a man in a grayish jacket and light pants walking briskly but casually at 11:39 a.m. away from Weinstein's and toward the Handlery Hotel, which had a line of taxicabs waiting a few doors down from Lefty's. The footage is time-stamped at 12:12 p.m., but Bovis said his camera's clock is 33 minutes fast. The man in the shot is carrying something framed in his left arm and wearing loafers but no socks -- a key part of the suspect description obtained by police. Investigators reviewed the footage Wednesday morning but declined to comment on it. Bovis said police downloaded it from his hard drive and planned to use it in their search. "It appears it could be our suspect," police spokesman Officer Albie Esparza said. "The description is similar and he's holding art, obviously, but not until we arrest him can we say that's the guy we're looking for." Esparza said the Police Department has impounded the cab the suspect rode in and is interviewing the driver and reviewing the cab's security camera footage.


Astronaut Rex Walheim to Make Final Trip to Atlantis Space Shuttle

A Bay Area man will be one of four astronauts heading off to space Friday morning in the final trip for the Atlantis space shuttle, a NASA Ames Research Center spokeswoman said. Rex Walheim, 48, from the San Carlos area, will be launched into space at 8:26 a.m. from Florida's Cape Canaveral 39A launch pad with three other astronauts. The purpose of the mission is to deliver supplies, logistics and spare parts to the International Space Station, NASA Ames Research Center spokeswoman Cathy Weselby said. Walheim grew up in the Bay Area and is a University of California at Berkeley alumnus who graduated in 1980 with an undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering, university spokeswoman Sarah Yang said. "The College of Engineering is aware and proud of his accomplishments," she said. Bay Area space fanatics will celebrate the final, historic launch on Friday morning with launch parties at Chabot Space and Science Center in Oakland and at the NASA research center in Moffett Field. Chabot Space and Science Center spokesman Robert Ade said Friday's launch is like a "Superbowl party for space enthusiasts." The Oakland science museum on 10000 Skyline Blvd. will open early at 7:30 a.m. to screen the Florida launch in the megadome theater and on televisions throughout the museum. Ade said the countdown is exciting and that there is a 10-minute window for the shuttle to take off, then afterward "the tediousness of space travel kicks in." Museum visitors will be able to hear what the NASA mission controllers are saying and can visit a mock mission control at the museum while watching the official NASA broadcast of the Atlantis lift-off. In Moffett Field at the NASA Ames Research Center, guests can watch the launch live at the NASA Exploration Center at 7:30 a.m. The viewing will also commemorate the Atlantis' final trip, Weselby said. The launch will be screened on the research center's big screen during the free event.


Richmond City Council Approves Municipal ID Card Program

The Richmond City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved a municipal identification card program for city residents. The ID cards will provide an official government-issued form of identification to immigrants and other residents who have difficulty obtaining other forms of identification. The program "contributes toward moving our city in a just, in an equitable and in a healthy direction," said Councilwoman Jovanka Beckles, who brought the ordinance to the council. The cards are meant to help people access financial services, jobs, housing and protections at home and at work. According to a report by city staff, people without official identification are less likely to report crimes to the police and less likely to report labor and housing violations. People without official identification also have difficulty opening bank accounts. According to the report, because many immigrants don't have bank accounts, they often carry large sums of cash on days they get paid, which makes them targets for robbery and other violent crimes. Lack of official identification also decreases public participation in the formal city economy and other civic matters, according to the report. Cardholders will have the option of having their cards function as pre-paid debit cards. "This is a way to empower our community," Beckles said. "This is a way to empower that segment of our community that might not feel empowered." The program will be administered through a third-party vendor at no cost to the city. The vendor will be chosen through an open bidding process and, once it is chosen, the City Council will set fees by resolution.


Police Release Names of 3 Suspects in '08 Gang-Related Homicide 

Police released the names Wednesday of three suspects who were taken into custody Friday in connection with a 2008 gang-related homicide in Union City. Noel Cruz, 19, Joel Perry Jr., 19, and Damian Alaniz, 18, all of Union City, are suspected of having taken part in the death of 28-year-old Juan Carlos Gomez. Gomez was shot and killed near Kennedy Park. He and another man, who had also been shot, were found wounded in a vehicle on 12th Street around 6:15 p.m. on Feb. 29, 2008. Police determined that the shooting took place during a robbery and that gang-related slogans were overhead during the incident. Cruz, Perry and Alaniz, who police say are active criminal street gang members, are in custody on suspicion of murder, assault with a deadly weapon or firearm, and participating in a criminal street gang. Union City police coordinated with Fremont and Newark police and the Southern Alameda County Major Crimes Task Force on Friday to serve a series of search and arrest warrants that resulted in four arrests. Anyone with additional information about the homicide is encourage to contact the Union City police tip line at (510) 675-5207 or email information to tips@unioncity.org.


Judge Postpones Yusuf Bey Sentencing, Key Witness Accused of Perjury

A judge Wednesday postponed the sentencing for former Your Black Muslim Bakery leader Yusuf Bey IV and an associate because of concerns about whether the prosecution's key witness in the case committed perjury. Bey, 25 was convicted on June 9 of three counts of first-degree murder for the shooting deaths of journalist Chauncey Bailey and two other men in Oakland in the summer of 2007. Bakery associate Antoine Mackey, also 25, was convicted of two counts of first-degree murder but jurors deadlocked on a third murder charge against him. Both men were also convicted of the special circumstance of committing multiple murders, face life in prison without the possibility of parole and were scheduled to be sentenced by Alameda County Superior Court Judge Thomas Reardon on Friday. But Wednesday Reardon postponed the sentencing and instead scheduled a hearing for Aug. 12 to find out what San Francisco attorney LeRue Grim meant when he told reporters for the Bay Area News Group on June 10, the day after the verdicts, that his client, key prosecution witness Devaughndre Broussard, may have committed "a little bit of fabrication" in his testimony. Defense attorneys Gene Peretti, who represents Bey, and Gary Sirbu, who represents Mackey, said in a recent motion that, "Taken in context, the only reasonable construction of the meaning of Mr. Grim's comment is that his client (Broussard) may have committed perjury." Peretti and Sirbu also said Bey and Mackey "have a statutory right to move for a new trial based on newly discovered evidence," which is Grim's statement to the Bay Area News Group. Alameda County Deputy District Attorney Melissa Krum, the case's prosecutor, said Wednesday, "Our office is equally interested in making sure that the truth was present at the trial but we are confident that an investigation will not change the verdicts and the sentencing."


Police, Prosecutors Team Up to Target, Prosecute Gangs

The chief of East Palo Alto police said Wednesday that police and prosecutors at every level of government are teaming up to target gangs and prosecute gang members in the community. Chief Ron Davis made his comments after hosting a closed-door roundtable discussion with representatives from federal, state and local law enforcement agencies on combating the Norteno and Sureno gangs active in East Palo Alto and throughout San Mateo County. Police investigators believe that it was a longstanding feud between the two gangs that led to a June 5 shooting outside a baby shower in East Palo Alto, in which a 3-month-old baby was fatally shot in the head and both his parents were wounded, Davis said. "No level of violence is acceptable," Davis said, "But the killing of a 3-month-old baby is completely beyond humanity." More than 70 law enforcement officials attended the roundtable to share intelligence and develop a coordinated strategy to target, arrest and prosecute active Norteno and Sureno gang members who have concentrated their activities on the Peninsula. Chief Davis said that representatives from the FBI, the state Department of Justice, the San Mateo County district attorney's office and local police departments wanted to send a "clear and unified message" that Norteno and Sureno gang members can expect increased and sustained pressure to cease gang involvement or face targeted, probations sweeps, arrests and prosecution. San Mateo County Sheriff Greg Munks said that the anti-gang endeavor was very important, even in the face of budget cuts and service reductions at every level of law enforcement. "My jail is currently overcrowded, but we will always make room for these criminals," Munks said.


SF Public Defender Jeff Adachi Pushes Pension Reform Measure, Wants Compromise

San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi said Wednesday that he is continuing to push forward to get his pension reform measure on the November ballot, but has reached out to city officials that are backing a separate measure on the issue in an attempt to reach a compromise. Speaking outside City Hall Wednesday afternoon, Adachi said he has more than 60,000 signatures on a petition for his measure, well over the roughly 47,000 required to qualify it for the ballot. Adachi said his measure, which proposes increased pension contributions from city employees, caps on pensions for new employees, and other changes, would save the city more money than a separate measure being proposed by Mayor Ed Lee. Lee's proposal, the result of months of negotiations between city officials and labor and business leaders, is set to be considered Tuesday by the Board of Supervisors, who will likely vote the following week on whether to put the measure on the November ballot. Adachi called the mayor's proposal a "watered-down version" of real reform, saying his plan would save the city $1.25 billion over 10 years, compared to $750 million for Lee's plan over the same period. However, Adachi said that he is open to compromise and dropped off a compromise proposal in the mayor's office and with each supervisor earlier Wednesday. The compromise proposal would save about $97 million in fiscal year 2012-13, while Adachi's original proposal would save about $107 million that year, and Lee's would save about $58 million, he said. The compromise measure would have to be approved by the supervisors to go on the ballot since Adachi cannot change the language of his measure without starting over again in the collection of signatures. The deadline to turn in the signatures is Monday evening.


Oakland Police Department to Undergo Major Reorganization to Improve Efficiency, Cope with Cuts

Oakland Police Chief Anthony Batts announced a major reorganization plan Wednesday that he said is aimed at making his department more efficient to help it cope with having fewer resources and officers because of budget cuts. Batts told reporters at a news conference at police headquarters that he wants to "build an organization that's fast, bold and quick" even though the number of officers in the department has dropped dramatically from 832 in November 2008 to 637 now. "Our numbers are shrinking and we are preparing to cope if they go into the 500s," Batts said. Batts said his plan calls for most officers to become generalists who can investigate a variety of serious crimes instead of specialists who focus on one area, such as homicides. He said currently there are "multiple units doing the same things" and he wants to consolidate them "to get more bang for the buck" and have more officers out on patrol. Batts said a major component of his plan is to split the Bureau of Field Operations into two separate bureaus, one in East Oakland and one in West Oakland, with a deputy chief in charge of each. The change sends a message to the community that the Police Department plans to deploy its senior leadership to reduce crime and improve customer service, Batts said. Splitting the Bureau of Field Operations into two separate divisions will take effect on Saturday and will impact patrol officers, and the other changes will take effect in mid-August, police spokeswoman Holly Joshi said. Batts said inaction by the Oakland City Council, in addition to budget cuts, forced him to try to be as efficient as possible with limited resources.


Search Closing for Capsized Boat Passengers in Baja California 

As the window closes for locating Bay Area passengers lost at sea when the charter fishing boat they were on capsized off the Baja California coast early Sunday morning, one local lawmaker is fighting to keep the search alive. More than forty people, including a group of fisherman from various Bay Area cities who were on a trip together, were aboard the boat operated by the fishing excursion company Baja Sportfishing Inc. when it sank Sunday at 2:30 a.m. in the Sea of Cortez near Isla San Luis, Mexico. Seven people are missing and one man died, according to the U.S. Coast Guard. Rough seas capsized the sport fishing charter boat, which had been carrying 27 U.S. tourists and 16 Mexican crew members at the time. State Sen. Leland Yee and family members representing three of the seven missing fishermen -- Donald Lee, Albert Mein and Russell Bautista -- gathered in San Francisco Wednesday evening to provide an update about search efforts. Yee said that family members of Lee, the organizer of the Bay Area contingent's annual fishing trip, contacted his office Wednesday morning. The family asked for help from Yee's office after Mexican authorities failed to provide answers about the search's progress. The Mexican navy requested the Coast Guard's assistance in the search Monday morning. The families were told that the search would end after 96 hours even though prior boating accidents in the area have convinced them otherwise. Water temperatures in the area where the boat capsized are relatively warm -- 80 degrees -- a factor that the Coast Guard and Mexican navy said could prevent hypothermia, one of the biggest threats for capsized swimmers. Members of Yee's office contacted the Mexican Consulate, which said it would do everything in its power to keep the search going and that the Mexican navy captain leading the efforts is committed to the search, Yee said. "We urge the Mexican authorities to continue the search," he said. Although Mexican authorities told Yee's office that the search would continue beyond 96 hours, Yee said they did not cite a specific length.


Santa Clara Stadium Authority Approves Milestone Agreements for 49ers Stadium Construction 

The Santa Clara Stadium Authority on Tuesday approved milestone agreements that bring the construction of the 49ers stadium several steps closer to reality. The authority, which includes City Council members, the city manager and the city attorney, approved a procurement process that will be used to hire subcontractors to perform roughly $500 million in construction work for the new stadium. The bidding process is expected to begin this fall. The stadium authority also approved the selection of Legends Premium Sales as the marketing agency to manage and sell stadium builders licenses, or seat licenses. Legends has sold $138 million in luxury boxes so far, and will begin selling seat licenses in January 2012. Proceeds will go toward stadium construction. The authority also gave the green light to an agreement with Centerplate, a concessionaire company, to provide input into the design of food, beverage, and merchandise areas. An agreement was also approved to allow the 49ers Stadium Company, or Stadco, to move forward with plans to fine-tune the design for the $950 million stadium. Additionally, the authority approved a $400,000 contract with Keyser Marston Associates to assist with the disposition and development agreement and structuring of the overall stadium financing plan. "It's very, very exciting," Deputy City Manager Carol McCarthy said. "We're moving forward in lots of different areas." The 68,500-seat stadium is expected to open next to the Great America theme park in time for the 2015 football season. Today, the city will break ground on a parking garage across from the planned stadium site. Next Tuesday, Hall of Fame football player Joe Montana is expected to present a proposal to lease and develop a luxury hotel on two city-owned parcels of land north of Tasman Avenue, across from the stadium.


SFFD Release More Info About Firefighters' Rescue in the Mission

The San Francisco Fire Department released more information Wednesday about a daring rescue of a woman by two firefighters who responded to a three-alarm residential fire on the city's Mission Street early Monday morning. The blaze, which was reported at about 5:50 a.m. Monday, damaged three duplexes in the 4000 block of Mission Street near Glen Park and Bernal Heights, fire department spokeswoman Mindy Talmadge said. The first crews to arrive were met by people who frantically told them that a woman was trapped inside one of the buildings at 4020 Mission St., Talmadge said. Two firefighters, an engine officer and crewmember from Engine Company 32, went into the building without a hose line and tried to find the woman, she said. Despite heavy smoke and heat, the firefighters were able to crawl up to the second floor and find the woman, who was unconscious in a hallway. They took her outside where paramedics revived her and transported her to the hospital, Talmadge said. The woman's injuries were considered life-threatening on Monday, and Talmadge did not have an update on her condition as of Wednesday. Talmadge said the actions of the firefighters, both of whom are women who have been with the department for more than 10 years, were "pretty amazing." She said, "It was completely black, but they felt around and found her and pulled her out." The fire was eventually extinguished by about 7 a.m. after causing nearly $1.5 million in damage to the three duplexes. The blaze displaced 28 people, including the woman who was rescued and another person who was hospitalized with injuries that are not believed to be life-threatening, Talmadge said. Two dogs were also taken to San Francisco Animal Care and Control to be cared for while the residents arranged temporary housing. The exact cause of the fire has not yet been determined, but it is not being considered suspicious, she said.

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SF Muni & BART Extend Senior/Disabled Pass Program

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency and BART have announced that they will expand their joint pilot program that allows senior and disabled customers Muni service and unlimited BART access within the city with a single pass. The 18-month pilot program will be extended for another six months, transit officials said. The Muni Senior/Disabled Pilot Pass, or "P" Pass, costs $26, which is $5 more than the regular monthly discount pass. Transit officials said participation in the program has been low, which may be due to the fact that customers were required to pre-register for the pass and obtain a voucher book to buy the passes at three participating locations. To make the "P" Pass more widely available, customers are no longer required to pre-register or acquire vouchers and the passes will be available at additional vending locations, according to transit officials. One thousand passes will be available on a first come, first serve basis. Customers must present valid identification, which includes a government-issued ID for proof of age or the Regional Transit Connection card for seniors or people with disabilities. The "P" Pass is not available on Clipper during the pilot program. If the extended pilot program is a success, transit officials said they will do away with the paper passes and the "P" Pass could be added to Clipper.

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SF Giants Pitcher Brian Wilson to Give 1,000+ Baseball Gloves to Kids

More than 1,000 young San Francisco sports fans will have all their baseball questions answered today by a true expert -- Giants pitcher Brian Wilson. Wilson will be hosting a question and answer session at AT&T Park for members of the Junior Giants baseball program, a free program offered to about 17,000 children in more than 85 underserved communities, team officials said. Each Junior Giants member at today's event will also receive baseball gloves and tickets to tonight's game against the Padres from the famed pitcher.

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Restaurant Claims To Have Surveillance Footage Of Picasso Thief

A well-known San Francisco restaurant might have surveillance video of a thief who walked into a Union Square art gallery on Tuesday morning and walked out with a Picasso drawing worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Lefty O'Doul's restaurant is just a few doors down from the Weinstein Gallery, located at 383 Geary St., where the thief took a 1965 pencil-on-paper drawing titled "Tete de Femme" at about 11:40 a.m. Tuesday then got into a waiting taxicab, according to the gallery and police.

It was unclear whether the man targeted the drawing or just took one randomly from the wall, San Francisco police Officer Esparza said Tuesday.

"Tete de Femme" measures about 8 inches by 11 inches, according to the gallery.

Witnesses described the thief as a white man about 6 feet tall, between 32 and 35 years old, wearing a dark jacket, light shirt, dark pants, loafers with no socks, and large sunglasses, Esparza said.

The Lefty O'Doul's surveillance stills show a man in a grayish jacket and light pants carrying a framed painting under his left arm.

Restaurant management will show the video to police and the news media late this morning at Lefty O'Douls, located at 333 Geary St. Anyone with information about the theft is asked to call San Francisco police at (415) 575-4444, text a tip to TIP411, or call 911.


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San Francisco Bay Area Wednesday News Roundup

Charter Fishing Boat Capsizes near Baja California - 1 Dead, 7 Missing

A fishing trip became a tragedy for many Bay Area passengers aboard a charter fishing boat after it capsized during a storm near Baja California, Mexico, early Sunday morning, a U.S. Coast Guard petty officer said. The boat, operated by the fishing excursion company Baja Sportfishing Inc., sank on Sunday at 2:30 a.m. in Sea of Cortez waters near Isla San Luis in Mexico. More than forty people were on board including crewmembers and a group of fishermen from various Bay Area cities on a fishing trip together. Seven people are missing and one man died, Coast Guard Petty Officer Henry Dunphy said. In an email sent from Baja Sportfishing Tuesday, the company said, "We are devastated by this horrible tragedy. Every effort is being made to assist the authorities in the search. Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with the families." Their website said all trips have been canceled because of the weekend incident. The Coast Guard is working with the Mexican navy to look for survivors after the Navy asked for assistance Monday morning. Tuesday morning the Coast Guard sent a C-130 Hercules airplane from Sacramento to provide a long-range search and rescue effort. The Coast Guard and Mexican navy are hopeful some of the missing people may be alive with the 80-degree waters preventing hypothermia, one of the biggest risks for capsized swimmers, aside from drowning, Dunphy said. "The water temperature is pretty warm," he said. "That is a major factor for how long someone can survive in the water." About 37 of the people thrown overboard made it to shore and some were able to call family back in the Bay Area.


Berkeley Physicist Missing After Bike Ride, Family Asks for Search Help

Family and friends of a Berkeley physicist who went missing after a bike ride over the weekend are asking for the public's help in locating him. Anthony Michael Martin, 29, might have been riding in the hills of Berkeley or Oakland when he went missing, his girlfriend, Amaya James, said. Another cyclist found his phone on Saturday on Tunnel Road in Berkeley. Martin is a former professional cyclist but might have been malnourished and fatigued over the weekend, James said. He was experimenting with fasting and might have struggled on the steep terrain. James and her parents have been searching the hills for him since Saturday night, when Martin was scheduled to meet her but never did. Berkeley police were meeting Tuesday afternoon to decide how to respond to his disappearance, James said. Police Sgt. Mary Kusmiss said that one of the challenges in searching for Martin is that he, as an accomplished cyclist, could have taken any number of routes, as Tunnel Road is a popular way to access many rides, some of which share the road with vehicles. Kusmiss said that Berkeley police officers performed a welfare check of Martin's apartment and confirmed that he was not home. Officers and investigators completed tasks Tuesday in an effort to locate Martin, but are asking for the public's help. Martin was most likely riding a fluorescent green and white road bike and wearing a gray and blue helmet, white cycling shoes, regular street clothes and possibly a blue Mountain Hardware backpack. Anyone with information about Martin is asked to call the Berkeley Police Department at (510) 981-5900.


Art Piece Worth $100,000s Stolen from Weinstein Gallery

A piece of art worth several hundred thousand dollars was stolen Tuesday morning from a gallery near Union Square, a police spokesman said. A man walked into the gallery, located in the 300 block of Geary Street, at about 11:40 a.m., took a drawing off the wall and walked out, Officer Albie Esparza said. He was seen getting into a taxicab and leaving the area. The theft appears to have taken place at the Weinstein Gallery at 383 Geary St., whose collection includes pieces by Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Salvador Dali and other masters, according to its website. It was unclear whether the man targeted the piece he took or just grabbed one randomly from the wall, Esparza said. The artwork was described as a pencil-on-paper drawing. Witnesses described the suspect as a white man about 6 feet tall, between 32 and 35 years old, wearing a dark jacket, light shirt, dark pants, loafers with no socks, and large sunglasses, Esparza said. Anyone with information about the theft is asked to call San Francisco police at (415) 575-4444, text a tip to TIP411, or call 911.


2 Local Rappers Help Rescue People from Burning Building

Two local rappers helped rescue residents from a burning apartment building near Oakland's Highland Hospital Tuesday afternoon. The one-alarm fire started at about 2:20 p.m. in a ground-floor apartment at a three-story building in the 1500 block of 31st Street. Rapper Sleepy D, 21, said he was watching TV with fellow rapper Big Hongry inside an apartment on the top floor when they smelled smoke. The pair jumped into action, heading downstairs and kicking in the door to an apartment where there was an elderly man inside, he said. They also broke into another apartment to get to other residents they believed were trapped, Sleepy D said. "We had to get everybody out of there," he said. "We just kicked their doors in." Oakland fire Battalion Chief Melinda Drayton said residents and firefighters worked together to get the building's occupants to safety. "There were a few residents who were assisting with the evacuation," she said. When firefighters arrived, they were told there were children and adults with mobility problems who were trapped. "It was a very hectic scene when we first got on scene," she said. However, everyone managed to get out safely, and no injuries were reported. The fire was confined to one apartment, with smoke damage to three other units, Drayton said. Damage was estimated at $80,000 to $100,000. Eight adults and two children -- a 10-year-old girl and a 5-year-old boy -- were displaced, and the American Red Cross was called to assist them, she said. She said it appeared the apartment where the blaze originated was empty at the time. When the family came back home, they told firefighters they did not know how the fire started. Investigators are exploring the possibility that the fire was sparked by an electrical problem, but the cause has not been determined, Drayton said.


Family of Giants Fan Bryan Stow Share News of Condition

The family of severely beaten Giants fan Bryan Stow shared news through a family website about Stow's condition at San Francisco General Hospital. Last month Stow's doctors upgraded his condition from critical to serious after being a coma since a March 31 attack outside of Dodgers Stadium in Los Angeles. The family wrote on their website for Stow, a 42-year-old Santa Cruz father of two who worked as an emergency medical technician in Santa Clara County, that his fever has been down since Wednesday and he does not have any infections. With these improvements, the family said they hope Stow can receive a shunt in his brain. "We have heard from many people that this could, while eliminating excess fluid, help with his responsiveness," family members wrote. San Francisco General Hospital spokeswoman Rachael Kagan said Stow remains in serious condition at the hospital under the care of neurosurgeon Dr. Geoff Manley. Stow has been receiving treatment at San Francisco General Hospital since transferring from a Los Angeles hospital in May.


Brother of I-5 Strangler Victim Touched by Finding Remains

The brother of a woman killed in 1977 by a man known as the I-5 Strangler said Tuesday that having his sister's remains, which were found earlier this year and positively identified last month, provided "personal contact" to his sister for the first time in more than 30 years. "It made us feel more in touch with her," said Carl Burleigh, whose sister Lou Ellen Burleigh was 21 when she left her Walnut Creek home for a job interview and never returned. "It brought her back with us somehow," he said. Lou Ellen Burleigh's car was found in Pleasant Hill, but the case went cold for years until DNA evidence finally linked Roger Kibbe, now 72, to the disappearance, Walnut Creek police said. Kibbe admitted in 2002 to luring Burleigh with a fake job ad before raping and killing her. He said he left the young woman's body in a dry riverbed near Lake Berryessa, but extensive searches in 2003 and 2007 failed to turn up her remains, police said. A Napa County sheriff's deputy became interested in the case earlier this year and, after revisiting the district attorney's case notes, went back to search for Burleigh's remains, according to the sheriff's department. The deputy, Michael Bartlett, found a piece of her pelvic bone in a small creek on March 10. Carl Burleigh said the Walnut Creek Police Department contacted his mother on Wednesday, June 22, and said officers were coming to her home outside Seattle on Friday to give her an update on the case. It was not until the investigators arrived that they revealed to Carl Burleigh, his younger brother and their mother that Lou Ellen Burleigh's remains had been found. "They did a tremendous job," Carl Burleigh said. He said learning about the remains provided some relief but did not have the same emotional impact as some of the other milestones in the case, including finally learning in 2004 that his sister had been murdered. "Until then she'd always been a missing person, and then all of a sudden, boom, she was a murder victim," he said.


Daly City Man on Trial for Dropping Baby into Hot Oven, Accused of Child Endangerment, Child Abuse

A Daly City man accused of dropping his 17-month-old son into a hot oven told police that the child turned on the range by himself and crawled in backward, causing second- and third-degree burns on his legs. A video of the police interview was played Tuesday morning in San Mateo County Superior Court, where 20-year-old Gregory Colver is on trial for child endangerment and child abuse. Colver has been accused of trying to teach his son a lesson about the dangers of a hot stove by dangling him above an open range in their Daly City kitchen on December 28, 2010, and dropping him on the hot oven rack when the boy began to squirm. The child was brought to Seton Medical Center with multiple horizontal and vertical burns on the sides and backs of his lower legs. He was later transferred to a burn unit at San Francisco's St. Francis Memorial Hospital. In an interview taped early the following morning at the Daly City Police Department, Colver -- who had not yet been arrested -- told two police officers and an investigator from San Mateo County Child Protective Services that he had fallen asleep on the couch when his son knocked down a child barrier to get into the kitchen. "I'm a hard sleeper because I work all night," Colver said. The defendant then said that his toddler son -- whom he called "not that bad of a climber" -- used an empty toy box to crawl on top of the oven, where he turned on the range, opened the oven door, dropped on to the door and crawled in backward, burning his lower legs on the rack. Child Protective Services investigator Michelle LaVynh testified that Colver's girlfriend -- the boy's mother who was not in the apartment at the time of the incident -- told her that Colver had been heating the oven to cook a frozen pizza at 450 degrees, and that the boy accidentally crawled in. Inconsistencies in the parents' stories led police to arrest Colver on December 29.


Pitssburgh Man Testifies He Didn't Beat Girlfriend to Death with Baseball Bat

A Pittsburg man testified Tuesday afternoon that he did not beat his estranged girlfriend to death with a baseball bat at her home in Novato nearly two years ago. James Mitchell, 29, testified in Marin County Superior Court that he struggled with two men at his ex-girlfriend Danielle Keller's Diablo Court home, snatched his daughter from one of them and fled with her on July 12, 2009. Mitchell, who was arrested later that day in Citrus Heights, is charged with Keller's murder and kidnapping their daughter Samantha on her first birthday. Mitchell testified that he did not see who bludgeoned Keller to death. He said while he was struggling with the two men -- one of whom was wearing a white shirt while the other was wearing a black shirt -- one of the men hit him in the back with a baseball bat. Mitchell said one of the men grabbed his daughter and he chased after him and snatched her from him on the street, then got in his car and drove away. He said he was sad when his mother called him while he was driving with his daughter and told him Keller was dead. "Yeah, I was pretty upset," he said without showing any emotion. The Marin County District Attorney's Office will begin cross-examining Mitchell Tuesday afternoon.


BART Authorities Release Few New Details about Civic Center Incident

BART officials held another news conference Tuesday but released few new details about the confrontation at San Francisco's Civic Center station on Sunday in which BART police shot and killed a knife-wielding man. BART Deputy Police Chief Daniel Hartwig told reporters at a morning briefing at the transit agency's Oakland headquarters that investigators hope to learn the man's identity later Tuesday. He is believed to Caucasian and between the ages of 30 and 50, Hartwig said. The shooting happened during a confrontation on the platform of the Civic Center station at about 9:45 p.m. Sunday. Hartwig said Tuesday that police do not yet know how many shots were fired, but that three bullet casings were recovered on the platform. BART had received reports around 9:30 p.m. of a white man wearing a tie-dye shirt and green military fatigue pants who was carrying an open container of alcohol -- which is illegal in a BART station. A call a few minutes later into BART dispatch said the man was drunk and "wobbly on the platform." Hartwig said the two officers arrived at the Civic Center station on an East Bay-bound train at 9:45 p.m. and confronted the man, who was aggressive and combative and didn't comply with orders. He was armed with a knife and a broken alcohol bottle he was wielding as a weapon, BART officials said. A minute after the confrontation began, the man was shot. One of the officers suffered minor cuts in the confrontation, Hartwig said. Medical personnel performed CPR on the man, who was shot in his front torso area. He was transported to San Francisco General Hospital where he was pronounced dead around 10:45 p.m. The two officers have been placed on administrative leave. One of the officers involved in the shooting has been on the BART police force for six years, and the other for 18 months. One of the officers was carrying a Taser at the time of the confrontation but did not use it, BART officials said.


4 Vineyard Workers Exposed to Pesticide Spray

Four vineyard workers were treated for respiratory problems Tuesday after being exposed to pesticides sprayed on Monday night, according to the Napa County Sheriff's Office. The workers experienced breathing problems at about 8:30 a.m. after arriving for work Tuesday, Napa sheriff's Capt. Tracey Stuart said The vineyard had sprayed 21 acres with chemical products including Sylgard, Flint and Altacor, Stuart said. The vineyard covers 80 acres in the 4000 block of Big Ranch Road near Oak Knoll Avenue, north of Napa, Stuart said. The workers were taken to Queen of the Valley Medical Center in Napa.


Bison Euthanized in Golden Gate Park

One of the bison living in a Golden Gate Park meadow was euthanized Tuesday, according to a San Francisco Zoo spokeswoman. Tenny, one of the five American bison living in the park, had recently become ill. After separating herself from the other bison, Tenny "laid down and basically never got up again," San Francisco Zoo spokeswoman Lora LaMarca said. "She really went downhill very quickly. The first sign was when she separated herself from the herd," LaMarca said. A grazing animal, bison usually feed standing up, and after treating Tenny for two days, zoo staff concluded that Tenny's quality of life had deteriorated. She was euthanized before noon Tuesday. LaMarca said the precise cause of Tenny's illness could not be known until after a necropsy had been performed. LaMarca said that the zoo is working with the parks department to introduce more bison in Golden Gate Park. "Hopefully by year's end there will be more because the bison here are old," LaMarca said. Bison typically live anywhere from 20 to 30 years. Of the remaining four bison, two are 20 years old and two are 28 years old, so they are not expected to live much longer. Tenny was 20 years old. Tenny and the other four bison are descendents of two bison introduced in 1984 as a gift to then-San Francisco Mayor Dianne Feinstein from her husband, Richard Blum. Bison were first introduced to Golden Gate Park in February 1891 by the Park Commission as the native American animals were on the brink of extinction. Tuesday, Golden Gate Park is one of several protected habitats for bison, and the zoo is collaborating with the parks department to maintain them in San Francisco.

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Mayor Lee Gets New Plug-In Hybrid Vehicle

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee is now traveling in a snazzy new vehicle that is also better for the environment -- it's a plug-in hybrid that he said will hopefully use little to no gasoline each day.

Lee made the announcement about the new electric car, a Chevrolet Volt, on Independence Day to symbolize his support for a future that is independent of foreign oil.

The mayor talked more about his new wheels in an impromptu interview with reporters at City Hall Tuesday afternoon, saying the car is turning heads around town. "People are staring at it for sure, they don't know who is there behind the tinted glass," he said. "I'm sure they're expecting some teenager, not some 60-year-old mustache guy."

After being fully charged, the Volt -- one of the most fuel-efficient compact cars sold in the U.S. -- runs for 40 miles on electric power before switching to gas, and Lee said he will try to keep it under that number "so I don't ever have to use a drop of gas."

He said he is trying to get a charging station installed at the garage where the car will be parked at City Hall.

The car cost $39,000, half of which was paid for by grants and the rest was paid for by trading in another car in the city's fleet, Lee said.

He said he wants to switch more of the city-owned cars from gas to electric power. "I think we have enough gas-using cars," he said. "We should be able to trade those out."

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SF Firefighters Put Out Telegraph Hill Fire

No Injuries, Cause of Garage Fire Under Investigation

Firefighters extinguished a one-alarm blaze that started in a garage in San Francisco's Telegraph Hill neighborhood this morning. The fire was reported at 1:51 a.m. at a three-story building at 294 Francisco St. The blaze began as a car fire that spread to the garage and surrounding structure, a fire dispatcher said. The fire was under control by 2:30 a.m. and no injuries were reported. The cause of the fire is under investigation.

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July 9, 2011

It is 7:01 a.m. going at 54° and possible 64° if we are lucky. Details here. The now famous, or infamous, Picasso sketch theft suspect was described as a nice and ambitious guy by people who knew him. The man was on the national spotlight when he attempted an art heist earlier this week. More...

A friend and former boss of alleged Picasso thief Mark Lugo remembers a very different man from the downcast-looking character in a San Francisco police mug shot. Fred Dexheimer knew Lugo as a mild-mannered, ambitious...

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July 8, 2011

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Early this Friday morning, bad things came in threes.

Since the Ferry Building in San Francisco was rebuilt, it has become a destination for foodies, tourists, locals and business people looking for a good meal that is often organic and comes at a price.

July 6, 2011

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