SF News

Trans March To Celebrate 1966 "Screaming Queens" Riot

The San Francisco Trans March, the city's largest transgender Pride event, will be celebrating the 45th anniversary of a riot that helped pave the way for the modern LGBT rights movement, organizers said.

In August 1966, a group of transgender people rose up in anger against harassment at the Gene Compton's Cafeteria in the city's Tenderloin neighborhood, organizers said.

The riot was the subject of the 2005 documentary, "Screaming Queens." One of the "screaming queens" who participated in the riot, Felicia Flames, will deliver the keynote address at today's celebration, organizers said.

Revelers will also be treated to performances by artists, including DJ Stephanie Luz, The Introverts, and Josie and the Pussycats.

The celebration will be held at Mission Dolores Park at 3:30 p.m. The march to the Civic Center will follow at 6:30 p.m.

 

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San Francisco Bay Area Friday News Roundup

San Jose City Council Negotiating City Employee Retirement Benefits

The San Jose City Council will hold a special meeting this afternoon to discuss moving forward in negotiations with employee bargaining units on retirement benefits. The council will defer acting on a declaration of fiscal and public safety emergency and fiscal reform ballot measures until Aug. 2, but will discuss cost analysis on the various proposals for retirement reform and the potential savings of the different plans, as well as potential opt-in reforms. Mayor Chuck Reed announced a proposal to declare a fiscal emergency in May, saying that it would rein in "skyrocketing" retirement costs and help the city avoid further cuts to services and layoffs of hundreds of workers, including police officers and firefighters. His proposal calls for setting limits on retirement benefits for new and current employees and retirees, but because the recommendations require changes to the city charter, they would have to win approval by voters. The city is considering an election possibly in March 2012. Many residents and city workers have already begun showing their disapproval, whether at council meetings or through demonstrations. Thursday evening, labor and community leaders gathered outside of City Hall for a rally organized by the South Bay Labor Council in support of collective bargaining. "They want to encourage City Council to use collective bargaining to solve pension problems rather than to declare a fiscal emergency and go to the ballot box," said Jody Meacham, a communications coordinator for Working Partnerships USA, a nonprofit founded by the Labor Council. Prior to the today's meeting, leaders and members of various faiths will hold a noontime blessing service in front of City Hall in support of collective bargaining.

 

Gov. Brown Speaks in SF, Optimistic About Balancing Budget, Calls for Special Election

Gov. Jerry Brown sounded optimistic in a speech in San Francisco on Thursday about solving California's budget crisis, while warning that a failure by the state Legislature to reach a deal would bring severe cuts. "It's very hard to herd the cats and get irreconcilable opposites to meet on common ground," Brown told an audience of apartment builders at the annual Pacific Coast Builders Conference at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. "But I think we have a path forward and I think we can reach it," he said. "We're not there yet but I'm confident we can get there." The Democratic governor is seeking a special election this fall to ask Californians to approve tax extensions to fill a $9.6 billion budget deficit. He needs the votes of four Republican legislators to set an election, but thus far has not been able to win those votes. Brown said he may seek a voter initiative if the Legislature doesn't set an election. But if a tax extension is not enacted through either process, "we must continue to retrench. That's not pretty," the governor said. Brown reiterated his often-repeated vow that he won't use what he called "smokescreens" or gimmicks employed by previous governors to balance the state budget. Brown needs the votes of two Republican Assembly members and two Republican state senators to create the two-thirds majority needed to set a special election, as well as to pass temporary "bridge" taxes that would be in effect until the election. Under his proposal, voters would be asked to approve a continuation of a 1 percent sales tax increase and a 0.05 percent vehicle license fee increase for up to five years. Those increases are scheduled to expire on June 30. Voters would be also be asked to reinstate an already-expired 0.25 percent personal income tax surcharge for four years beginning in 2012.

 

U.S. Islamophobia Rising: Favorable Rating 30%

Islamophobia is back on the rise in the U.S. despite cautious optimism in 2008 that post-Sept. 11 anti-Muslim sentiments had begun to decline, according to a new report by the University of California at Berkeley and a national Islamic rights group. The authors of "Same Hate, New Target: Islamophobia and Its Impact in the United States 2009-10" found that Americans' favorable rating of Islam is only 30 percent -- down 10 percentage points from November 2001, according to a Pew Research Center study. "Same Hate, New Target," released Thursday, was co-sponsored by UC Berkeley's Center for Race and Gender and the Council on American-Islamic Relations. It takes a in-depth look at intolerant actions and discourse and provided recommendations for combating Islamophobia in the future. "This report shows that Americans who embrace pluralism must act together to prevent Islamophobia from being accepted in mainstream society," CAIR national legislative director Corey Saylor said in a statement. "Islamophobia is the new face of an old hate that has targeted minorities throughout our nation's history." The groups defined Islamophobia as prejudice against or hatred of Islam and Muslims. After years of decline, it spiked after President Obama's 2009 inauguration, according to the report. The FBI found that 8.4 percent of hate crime victims in the U.S. in 2009 were targeted because of anti-Islam bias, according to the report.

 

Judge Dismisses Felony Hate Crime Charges Against Attackers of Transgender Woman

San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon said Thursday he is disappointed in a judge's decision to dismiss felony hate crime allegations against two men accused of assaulting and robbing a transgender woman near San Francisco's 16th Street BART station in April. Lionel Jackson, 32, and Maurice Perry, 37, are accused of attacking the woman on April 1 outside the BART station at Mission and 16th streets. At a preliminary hearing that ended Wednesday, Judge Bruce Chan ordered Jackson and Perry to stand trial on charges of assault, second-degree robbery and violating the victim's civil rights, but dismissed felony hate crime allegations against the pair. Gascon, speaking at a news conference Thursday at the San Francisco Hall of Justice, said he is disappointed in the judge's dismissal "despite a strong set of facts" about "an attack we believe was motivated by hate." Prosecutors said Jackson and Perry allegedly took the woman's smartphone, and when she demanded it back, the pair allegedly punched her, knocking her to the ground and yelling epithets at her. Alexandra Byerly, who was passing out condoms nearby as part of an HIV prevention campaign, testified at the preliminary hearing Monday that as the suspects were running away, one of them said, "Oh, I hate men dressed up as women." The two men were arrested shortly after the attack, which left the woman hospitalized. Gascon and Victor Hwang, the prosecutor in the case, said the district attorney's office plans to re-file the hate crime charge when the case goes to trial. Hwang said he disagrees with the judge's decision on the hate crime allegations, especially since the judge ordered the pair to stand trial on the civil rights violation, and the two charges "share the identical elements as to a biased motive." Chan had ruled that the primary motive for the attack was financial because it had started as a robbery, Hwang said. The felony hate crime allegation can add up to three years in state prison to a sentence, while the misdemeanor civil rights violation can only add up to a year in county jail, Hwang said. Clair Farley of the San Francisco LGBT Community Center said, "This ruling is troubling because it makes all of us feel as though we will not have the same protections and safeties we need if violence happens to us." Gascon said, "If we're serious about being a community of tolerance and a community of equality for all, then we need to start treating all of our citizens with equality, and we believe that this case highlights the lack of sensitivity and the lack of understanding that we have in these areas."

 

School District Sued for Failing to Protect Black Youths from Gang Attacks, Agrees to Settlement

Oakland civil rights attorney Pamela Price said Thursday that the New Haven Unified School District in Union City has agreed to pay $725,000 to settle a lawsuit that alleged that school officials failed to protect black youths from attacks by a Latino gang. However, school district spokesman Rick La Plante said, "There is no final settlement at the present time and to say so otherwise is premature." La Plante said final approval of the settlement is still pending and "is contingent upon several events taking place that have not yet occurred." But Price said U.S. District Court Judge Laurel Beeler approved the settlement at the conclusion of three settlement conference hearings and the district's school board approved it Tuesday night. Price said the settlement includes 13 remedial policies and programs that will be implemented by the school district to curb racial violence against black youths in its schools. She said the settlement calls for the $725,000 to be split among 12 students from six families. The suit alleged that the school district tolerated a pervasive pattern of racial violence and hate crimes directed at its black students, particularly crimes committed by the Decotos, a Latino gang. Price said the suit's goal was to force the district to take measures to protect black students and stop what she said were gang-inspired racially-motivated attacks in its schools. Price said the attacks began on Dec. 21, 2007, when Vernon Eddins, a 14-year-old black youth, was fatally shot in front of Barnard-White Middle School on Whipple Road in Union City. She said it's suspected that members of the Decoto gang killed Eddins but the case still hasn't been solved. The same plaintiffs have a similar lawsuit pending against the Union City Police Department alleging that it also hasn't done enough to protect black youths, Price said. But the Police Department said after the suit was filed that it has "a long-standing record of being responsive to supporting and defending the rights of all members of our diverse community."

 

Vallejo Resident Shot, 9th Homicide This Year

Vallejo police said a 22-year-old Vallejo resident was fatally shot in the 1000 block of Porter Street around 4 p.m. The homicide is the city's ninth this year, Sgt. Jeff Bassett said. The victim's name is being withheld until next of kin is notified, Bassett said. Anyone with information about this incident is asked to call the Vallejo police tip line at (800) 488-9383.

 

Fatal Car Crash Sparks Five-Acre Grass Fire

A fatal vehicle crash in Crockett on Thursday resulted in a five-acre grass fire, according to East Bay Regional Park District Assistant Fire Chief John Swanson. The 12:51 p.m. crash was originally reported as a car fire, according to CHP Officer S. Cakebread. Arriving on the scene, Cakebread said officers found the burning vehicle crashed into a pole at Winslow and Pomona streets. One fatality resulted from the crash, as did the fire, Swanson said. Regional park firefighters got the blaze under control by approximately 2:45 p.m. with assistance from the Crockett Fire Department, the Contra Costa Fire Protection District, and a helicopter from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, Swanson said. The fire did not cause any injuries, Swanson said. The cause of the fatal vehicle crash is under investigation. Swanson said that fire personnel will be monitoring the grassy area into the evening.

 

San Mateo Supes Approve Budget, Reinstate $1.7M in Services

The San Mateo County Board of Supervisors Thursday afternoon adopted its recommended budget for the next fiscal year after adding back $1.7 million in services that had been slated to be cut. County Manager David Boesch said that the county's $1.69 billion 2011-12 budget, which includes around $27 million in spending cuts spread across every county department, keeps San Mateo County on track to close its ongoing structural deficit, which could total $79 million in 2015 if no further action is taken. Declining tax revenues, a deep economic recession and reduced state funding were the primary contributors to the ongoing deficit, Boesch said. "The darkest cloud hanging over us is really the state budget," Boesch said. Despite uncertain economic conditions, the county was able to combine spending cuts with general fund withdrawals to come up with a budget plan that retained more than 90 percent of the services provided in last year's budget. The retained services were ones deemed priorities by residents, department heads and the board of supervisors, Boesch said. Among the $1.7 million in programs and services restored on the last day of the four-day budget negotiation process were family health services to 1,000 disabled and at-risk children, an aftercare program for foster youth, in-home crisis services for children in the juvenile justice system, and funding for a public health nurse to serve the isolated community of Pescadero.

 

San Francisco Fencing Studio Celebrates Birth of Olympic Games

A San Francisco fencing studio celebrated the birth of the modern Olympic Games Thursday afternoon with former Olympians and world champions sparring and lunging to motivate future Olympians. Halberstadt Fencers' Club coach Greg Massialas said kids and young adults will listen to former Olympians, world champions and hopefuls talk about the international games and watch them show off some footwork and fencing techniques at the studio at 621 S. Van Ness Ave. "I look at today as more of a motivational thing of what the Olympics mean," Massialas said. "And how you are part of a big worldwide community, all doing similar things." Some of the fencing club's members, many of whom are trying to make the Olympic team for the London 2012 games, will be suited up in their gear. The event serves as an exhibition of fencing, which is often overshadowed by other Olympic summer events such as swimming. The 2011 USA Fencing National Championships are in less than two weeks, said Massialas, a three-time Olympian himself. Thursday in Sacramento, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom celebrated International Olympic Day as he serves as chair of the California Winter Games Committee. State leaders proclaimed the importance of "Olympic spirit" at the Capitol event, Newsom's spokesman Francisco Castillo said. The event was scheduled from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.

 

Stinson Beach Will Open to Swimming and Surfing Today

Unless there is another shark sighting, Stinson Beach will be open to swimming and surfing today, according to lifeguard Scott Talmer. The popular Marin County beach was partially closed after an 8- to 10-foot great white shark was sighted around 2 p.m. Sunday. Beach users were prohibited from going more than knee-deep in the water until today.

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Fencing Club Celebrates Olympic Tradition, Prepares For 2012 Games

A San Francisco fencing studio is celebrating the birth of the modern Olympic Games this afternoon with former Olympians and world champions sparring and lunging to motivate future Olympians.

Halberstadt Fencers' Club coach Greg Massialas said kids and young adults will listen to former Olympians, world champions and hopefuls talk about the international games and watch them show off some footwork and fencing techniques at the studio at 621 S. Van Ness Ave.

"I look at today as more of a motivational thing of what the Olympics mean," Massialas said.

"And how you are part of a big worldwide community, all doing similar things." Some of the fencing club's members, many of whom are trying to make the Olympic team for the London 2012 games, will be suited up in their gear. 

The event serves as an exhibition of fencing, which is often overshadowed by other Olympic summer events such as swimming.

The 2011 USA Fencing National Championships are in less than two weeks, said Massialas, a three-time Olympian himself.

Today in Sacramento, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom celebrated International Olympic Day as he serves as chair of the California Winter Games Committee.

State leaders proclaimed the importance of "Olympic spirit" at the Capitol event, Newsom's spokesman Francisco Castillo said.

The event was scheduled from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.

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Community Coalition Baking Cookies, Awareness At City Hall Fundraiser

A San Francisco group is heating up its fight to protect $8 million in funding for services -- primarily for the city's homeless and low-income populations -- slated to be cut from the 2011-2012 budget with a bake sale fundraiser this afternoon.

The Budget Justice Coalition is holding a "Cookies Not Cuts" bake sale on the City Hall steps from noon to 1:30 p.m. to raise money and awareness for programming for low-income residents.

The funding is on the chopping block according to budget recommendations made by Mayor Ed Lee.

Treats will be sold based upon voluntary donations -- anywhere from $1 to $10 million -- to raise money for homeless, mental health, substance abuse, violence prevention, legal services and other programs, said Jennifer Friedenbach, the director of the Coalition on Homelessness and an event organizer.

"We left it off with the mayor that we would work together to restore reductions," she said.

"And now we are hoping the Board of Supervisors will do that."

The coalition will deliver a special baked good package to each supervisor before a public budget hearing on Friday with the board, Friedenbach said.

Service Employees International Union Local 1021 is part of the coalition hoping to stop another year of cuts.

Four years of reductions have left programs "down to bare bones," according to SEIU 1021 spokesman Steve Stallone.

SEIU represents service providers at a number of community nonprofits that will have to reduce hours, staffing and services if the cuts go through.

"You have fewer people trying to provide the same kinds of services," Stallone said.

"The ones who end up keeping their jobs have bigger case loads.

It's harder to get their work done. It's hard to provide quality service."

Proceeds from today's bake sale will be raffled off to a community nonprofit, Friedenbach said.

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Presidio Hosts Party To Celebrate 235th Birthday

The Presidio in San Francisco is hosting a birthday party to celebrate the first pioneer families and soldiers who came to the area more than 200 years ago.

The 12th annual Pasados Del Presidio celebration starts tonight at 7 p.m. with a living history event at the Rob Hill Campground.

Visitors will hear stories from "Juan Bautista de Anza," the 18th Century explorer, and sing songs around a fire, organizers said.

The party continues Friday, when hundreds of children are expected to turn out for an afternoon of indoor and outdoor events, including music, dance and hands-on activities.

From traditional Ohlone games to Spanish-era dances, the events will teach kids about the city's origins.

"It's really about kids connecting with the park," event organizer Lisa Hillstrom said in a statement.

"Creating a day for them that sparks their curiosity about the Presidio's past so they'll want to return with their friends and family to learn more."

Friday's activities will conclude with a concert, Evening Fandango, to celebrate early songs and dances.

Mexican-American band Los Cenzontles is this year's guest artist.

 

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Judge Grants Prosecution Request To Delay Bonds Proceedings Until August

A federal judge in San Francisco today granted prosecutors' request to delay their decision on a possible perjury retrial for home-run champion Barry Bonds until at least late August.

Bonds, 46, is accused of lying before a grand jury in 2003 when he denied having knowingly taken steroids or human growth hormone or having received any kind of injection from his trainer, Greg Anderson.

A jury in Judge Susan Illston's court in April convicted him of one count of obstructing justice by giving evasive testimony, but deadlocked on three perjury counts. Prosecutors have not yet announced whether they plan to retry the former San Francisco Giants outfielder on the three perjury counts.

Bonds argued in papers filed Wednesday that the U.S. Speedy Trial Act requires a retrial to begin by late July, if he is retried at all. But Illston said at a brief hearing today that she agrees with prosecutors that it would be "sensible" to postpone any action on a retrial until she has ruled on a separate motion by Bonds.

In that motion, Bonds asked her to overturn his obstruction-of-justice conviction by either issuing a judgment of acquittal or ordering a new trial on the count.

Illston tentatively scheduled a hearing on that motion for Aug. 26. Prosecutors argued in a filing last night that there should be an exception to the Speedy Trial Act "in the interests of justice" because if Bonds wins his motion, a retrial on the obstruction count should be combined with any possible retrial on the perjury counts.

Outside of court, defense attorney Allen Ruby declined to call the judge's denial of a July retrial date a setback.

"It's another step in the process," Ruby said. "We've said from the beginning we're confident Mr. Bonds will be vindicated by the system."

Bonds set Major League Baseball's career home run record in his last season with the San Francisco Giants in 2007.

He is one of 11 people charged with either illegally distributing drugs or lying in connection with a probe of the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative, or BALCO.

The others pleaded guilty or were convicted.

 

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Bart Wants Your Ideas for New Seats

 We’re all sick of the dirty Bart seats and happy to know the agency is seeking public input on the seats of the future. Could they all seek more ideas online?]  Bart is seeking public input in San Francisco today on its seats of the future as part of the agency’s ongoing “interactive seat lab” where you can check out actual seats in a hypothetical car of the future. It is great to see that the agency is seeking the public’s ideas and engaging their ridership on such a crucial issue. And Reset would encourage anyone who can make it to check out Bart’s website for complete details on today’s event and others at www.bart.gov/cars.

But, unfortunately for those of us just finding out about today’s event who have jobs, previous commitments or familial obligations between the hours of 10a.m. to 4p.m., it looks like our voice may not be heard. To its credit, Bart appears to have a pretty active Facebook page, but a quick look didn’t turn up any active online forum on what those of us who can’t make a weekday event might like to see in future seats. 

By now, most of you have probably heard about the rather disgusting shape of the seats on Bart. A recent study commissioned by The Bay Citizen found “high concentrations of at least nine bacteria strains and several types of mold” on a single Bart seat – and that’s the nice way of saying what was found.

We're thrilled that Bart is actually moving forward on the issue. The agency says it is in the process of securing 700 new cars at a cost of $3.4 billion.

But in today's world a mid-week public forum during the work day is hardly the best we can do to seek public opinions. Bart should think a little more Gov. 2.0 and create a method for San Franciscans to weigh in online about the seats they want to sit in. 

 

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Hate Crime Allegations Dismissed Against Men Accused Of Transgender Attack

Attack Near Bart Station

Felony hate crime allegations were dismissed Wednesday against two men accused of assaulting and robbing a transgender woman near San Francisco's 16th Street BART station in April, but the pair were ordered by a judge to stand trial on other charges in the case.

Lionel Jackson, 32, and Maurice Perry, 37, are accused of attacking the woman on April 1 outside the BART station at the intersection of Mission and 16th streets and taking her smartphone.

When she demanded the phone back, the pair allegedly punched her, knocking her to the ground, where they also allegedly kicked her, police said.

Alexandra Byerly, who was passing out condoms nearby as part of an HIV prevention campaign, testified on Monday in the preliminary hearing that as the suspects were fleeing the attack, one of them said, "Oh, I hate men dressed up as women."

The two men were arrested shortly after the theft.

When the preliminary hearing ended late Wednesday afternoon, San Francisco Superior Court Judge Bruce Chan ordered Jackson and Perry to stand trial on charges of assault, second-degree robbery and violating the victim's civil rights, but dismissed felony hate crime allegations against the pair, district attorney's office spokesman Seth Steward said.

District Attorney George Gascon has scheduled an 11:30 a.m. news conference today to discuss the judge's decision to dismiss the hate crime allegations and has invited several city officials and local LGBT community groups to join him, Steward said.

The news conference will take place at the district attorney's office in the San Francisco Hall of Justice at 850 Bryant St. Jackson and Perry will return to court on July 7 for formal arraignment on the other charges.

 

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Man Hit In Head During Robbery In Glen Park

Violence Over an iPod

A man was hit over the head with a handgun and robbed of his iPhone and headphones in San Francisco's Glen Park neighborhood on Wednesday morning, police said.

The robbery was reported at about 8:25 a.m. near the intersection of Chenery and Carrie streets.

The 27-year-old victim was approached by two suspects who grabbed the phone and headphones and ran away, according to police.

When the victim gave chase, one of the suspects hit him in the head with the gun and the other punched him in the face, police said.

The suspects fled and had not been arrested as of this morning.

The victim suffered minor injuries but was not hospitalized, according to police.

Anyone with information about the robbery is encouraged to call the Police Department's anonymous tip line at (415) 575-4444 or send a tip by text message to TIP411.

 

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UPDATE: Car Overturns In Minor-Injury Crash On Valencia Street

Lanes Closed on Valencia

A crash at 19th and Valencia streets in San Francisco's Mission District this morning sent one person to the hospital with minor injuries, a fire department spokeswoman said.

The crash was reported at 7:15 a.m. and involved three vehicles, fire spokeswoman Mindy Talmadge said.

She said one of the cars overturned, trapping the driver inside.

That driver was taken to San Francisco General Hospital to be treated for minor injuries.

The other two drivers were not hurt, she said. Valencia Street was still closed as of 8 a.m.

 

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BREAKING NEWS: Muni Bus Crash in Haight Ashbury

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PHOTO: Muni Bus Crashes into Sidewalk

At approximately 7:45 a.m., a Muni bus on the 37-Corbett route, travelling inbound to Masonic and Haight, crashed into the sidewalk in front of Coffee to the People, located at 1206 Masonic Avenue.

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo by Wayne Willyard, proprietor of Specimen Designs

UPDATE Thu, 06/23/2011 - 11:08am:

A San Francisco Municipal Railway bus struck a vehicle in San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury neighborhood this morning, a Muni spokesman said.

The crash was reported at about 7:45 a.m. near Masonic Avenue and Haight Street and involved a bus on the 37-Corbett line, spokesman Paul Rose said.

The driver of the bus was getting ready to start the outbound route, which begins at that intersection. When the driver took off the wheel block for the bus, it rolled backward and struck a vehicle, Rose said.

No passengers were on the bus at the time, and no injuries were reported, he said.

The driver of the bus has been placed on non-driving status and will be tested for drugs and alcohol as part of the agency's standard procedure for investigating an accident, Rose said. 

Read More About Muni Meltdowns:

Do you have a Muni Meltdown story? Tell us here!

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Police Arrest Suspected Bank Robber

San Francisco Bank Robber Arrested, Police Find Evidence

A man suspected of robbing a bank in San Francisco's Silver Terrace neighborhood on Saturday was arrested, police said.

A bank in the 2400 block of San Bruno Avenue was robbed on Saturday at around 2 p.m.

A man walked up to the teller and demanded money.

When the teller hesitated, the suspect threatened the teller and reached under his jacket as if to grab a gun, police said.

The teller gave the man $1,000 and the suspect left.

An officer from the Bayview police station who had responded to the bank robbery was on patrol in the same neighborhood on Sunday morning at around 8:30 a.m.

The officer spotted a man who matched the description of the bank robber, police said.

The officer detained the suspect, 32-year-old Earl Jason Casaclang of San Francisco on San Bruno Avenue near Silliman Street.

Investigators allegedly found evidence linking Casaclang to the robbery, including some of the money stolen from the bank.

Police said Casaclang was also positively identified by witnesses.

Casaclang was arrested on suspicion of robbery, burglary, and attempted robbery for another incident.

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San Francisco Bay Area Thursday News Roundup

Barry Bonds Asks Judge for Retrial to Begin by 3rd Week of July

Home-run champion Barry Bonds asked a federal judge in San Francisco Wednesday to order his retrial on three deadlocked perjury counts to begin by the third week of July, if he is retried at all.

Bonds' lawyers said in a filing submitted to U.S. District Judge Susan Illston that the U.S. Speedy Trial Act requires his retrial to start within a month.

They said prosecutors should be required to say at a hearing before Illston on today whether they do plan to try Bonds a second time on three counts on which a jury deadlocked in April.

"If the government is to retry Mr. Bonds, it must do so within the time provided by the act," defense attorney Dennis Riordan wrote.

"Mr. Bonds is entitled to be informed at tomorrow's status conference whether the government intends to retry him on the mistried counts," Riordan said in the filing. Bonds, 46, is accused of lying to a federal grand jury in 2003 when he denied knowingly have taken steroids or human growth hormone or having received any kind of injection from his trainer, Greg Anderson.

The panel was investigating the distribution of anabolic steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs by the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative, or BALCO. In a trial in Illston's court that ended April 13, the jury deadlocked on three charges that Bonds made false statements in his 2003 testimony.

Jurors convicted him on a fourth count of obstructing justice by giving evasive testimony.

Prosecutors have thus far not said whether they will seek a retrial on the false-statements counts. In a filing Tuesday, they asked Illston to delay any consideration of a new trial date until at least late August, after she rules on a separate challenge by Bonds to the obstruction-of-justice conviction.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Parrella wrote, "The parties will be in a far better position to provide meaningful information to the court regarding the scheduling of the pending counts that remain in this case once the defendant's motions have been heard and resolved."

But in Wednesday's response, the defense attorneys said the two matters are separate and argued there is no legal basis for delaying a retrial.

 

Alameda City Council Maintains Fire Department's Pay Level, Despite Community Protests

The Alameda City Council Tuesday night approved a contract with the fire department that maintains current levels of pay, despite some public protestations that the firefighters deserve salary reductions for failing to intervene in the death of a suicidal man.

The department has been under scrutiny since Memorial Day, when rescuers stood by as 52-year-old Raymond Zack drowned himself at Crown Beach, but City Council members argued the contract negotiations started long before the incident and should be considered separately from Zack's death.

The council voted 4-1 to adopt a memorandum of understanding with the International Association of Firefighters, Local 689, that changes benefits and pension packages but does not impact salary from 2010 to 2013. Councilman Doug DeHaan was the dissenting vote.

The contract negotiations began in 2009, and pay reductions were never on the table, Mayor Marie Gilmore said. She emphasized that the contract was the result of a negotiation process, and that reopening the discussion might result in even fewer concessions.

"The City Council has no power to impose pay cuts," she said. "If you want a 5 or 10 percent pay cut, the way to do that is to cut bodies."

She also said the agreement means that the fire department's employees will not have had a pay raise in six years by the time the contract expires.

"You have to start somewhere, and that's what this negotiation is," she said. "The unions understand that we will be back because they have no interest in watching their employer go bankrupt."

A flood of irate citizens signed up to speak before the decision, asking the City Council to either reject the memorandum of understanding or postpone a vote until the public had more time to weigh in on it.

Some argued that the city and firefighters had been without a contract for 18 months and could wait a little longer, but City Manager John Russo said the council needed to act quickly to prove they were negotiating in good faith, thereby avoiding potential lawsuits.

 

SJ Declares Fiscal, Public Safety Emergency to Alter Public Contracts

San Jose's declaration of a fiscal and public safety emergency raises serious concerns, according to a letter released earlier this week by the office of Attorney General Kamala Harris.

Harris' letter was in response to a joint letter by Democratic state Assemblymen Paul Fong, Rich Gordon, Bob Wieckowski and Luis Alejo.

The assemblymen had asked Harris to investigate the city's declaration of a fiscal and public safety emergency as unwarranted and a misuse of state law.

The attorney general's letter states that only a cursory review was conducted, but nevertheless, "it appears that declaring a 'state of emergency' based on a financial crisis in order to justify the unilateral alteration of public contracts would be an extraordinary maneuver."

The letter states, "Financial problems faced by government must be resolved lawfully. To do otherwise would be irresponsible."

Mayor Chuck Reed announced the proposal in May, saying that it would rein in retirement costs and help the city avoid further cuts to services and the loss of hundreds of jobs.

Supporting Reed were Vice Mayor Madison Nguyen and Council members Sam Liccardo and Rose Herrera.

However, the proposal received vehement opposition from city employees and state representatives. Among them was Wisconsin state Sen. Spencer Coggs, one of 14 Democratic senators who left Wisconsin to protest Republican Gov. Scott Walker's proposal to end collective bargaining for workers.

Reed has said retirement costs are "skyrocketing" and contributing to the city's deficit, forcing the city to lay off hundreds of workers, including police officers and firefighters.

Retirement costs are projected to rise to $400 million by 2016, and could be closer to $650 million after actuarial adjustments.

Reed's proposal calls for setting limits on retirement benefits for new and current employees and retirees, but because the recommendations require changes to the city charter, they would have to win approval by voters.

 

Religious, Community Groups File Lawsuit to Keep Circumcision Ban of Ballot

Opponents of a proposal to criminalize male circumcision in San Francisco filed a lawsuit Wednesday asking for the measure to be removed from the November ballot.

Proponents of the circumcision ban submitted more than 12,000 signatures to the city's Department of Elections in April to get the measure on the ballot. It needed a minimum of 7,168 to qualify. 

The organizer of the campaign, Lloyd Schofield, has said he believes male circumcision is wrong and likened it to female circumcision practices that are already banned in the U.S.

The proposal would punish people who circumcise a minor with a fine of up to $1,000 or up to a year in jail.

Religious and community groups and various doctors joined together to file the lawsuit in San Francisco Superior Court Wednesday.

The lawsuit is calling on the state's Department of Elections to remove the proposition from the ballot on the grounds that San Francisco would have no power to enact the ordinance since only the state can make rules about medical procedures, according to Abby Michelson Porth of the Jewish Community Relations Council, one of the groups filing the suit.

"Physicians are concerned this measure would make them criminals" for performing procedures that "patients request and consent to," Michelson Porth said.

The opponents of the ban, which also include the Anti-Defamation League, say along with the protections under state law, the decision to circumcise boys for religious reasons is also protected under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

The opponents are asking for a hearing on the case to be held relatively soon, on July 15, since the city's Department of Elections has to begin preparations for putting measures on the ballot in August.

"Our intention is to have this resolved before that happens," Michelson Porth said.

 

Missing Nursing Student Michelle Le's Family Hires Private Investigator

The family of nursing student Michelle Le, who has been missing for more than three weeks, has hired a private investigator, a family spokeswoman said.

Le's family has been working with Hayward police and the FBI to find Le, 26, who went missing on May 27 during a break from her clinical rotation at Kaiser Permanente Hayward Medical Center on Sleepy Hollow Avenue.

Police have since classified Le's case as a homicide, while the family remains hopeful she will be found. Private investigator Michael Frame said he was hired on Monday to conduct a "parallel and independent" investigation. The investigator is working separately from Hayward police and FBI investigators, Le's cousin and family spokeswoman Krystine Dinh said.

"The goal is to get that one person out there that knows something to come forward," she said. Frame said the Le family has "full confidence in Hayward police," but the private investigating group will provide an alternate venue for people to call. "The fact of the matter is people just won't call the police," Frame said.

The private investigation is intended to supplement the police department's case, he said. Hayward police Lt. Roger Keener said Le's family conferred with police officials before hiring Frame.

"We wholeheartedly support them in this venture," he said.

"The reality is that some people, for a multitude of reasons, are simply uncomfortable talking to police."

A $65,000 reward is still available for anyone with information leading to Le's whereabouts, Frame said. To share information with the private firm, people can contact the investigator at (925) 837-8309 ext. 33 or email Michael@TheFrameGroup.com. Anonymous emails can be sent through the website at www.TheFrameGroup.com. A three-day search for Le took place last weekend in Hayward and another search is planned for Saturday. From 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. volunteers over 18 years old can meet at the command center at 23350 Cypress Ave. in Hayward to help search for Le, Dinh said. Volunteers on Saturday will search new areas that are near where people looked for Le last week, she said.

 

Marin Community Foundation Awards $6M to Close Educational Achievement Gap

The Marin Community Foundation announced Wednesday it has awarded $6 million in education grants to help low-income students and students of color achieve academic success.

The grants are made under the Foundation's five-year strategic initiative to close the educational achievement gap in Marin County, Foundation spokesman Fred Silverman said.

The grant funding focused on the San Rafael, Novato Unified, Sausalito Marin City and Shoreline Unified school districts that are attended by large numbers of low-income students and people of color, Silverman said.

Approximately $3 million will support scholarships and 16 programs that increase the number of students who attend college by helping them participate in afterschool academic and social programs.

The college readiness efforts will help students improve their study skills, prepare for tests, receive counseling, develop social leadership skills and learn about college admissions and selection processes.

The largest grant recipient is the 10,000 Degrees program, which received $1.8 million, for financial aid scholarships. Marin Community Foundation President and CEO Thomas Peters said students often fall through the cracks if they do not get the extra help with their studies that can make a difference between dropping out and thriving.

"This is a missed opportunity for these students, their families and the community as a whole, so we're determined to help fill that void," Peters said.

More than $2 million will go toward early education programs in preschool through third grade in the Shoreline Unified, Novato Unified, San Rafael City Schools and Sausalito Marin City school districts.

Peters said successful early education efforts focus on involving families in their children's education, enhancing teacher training, ensuring smooth transitions between grades and using data to identify the specific needs of each student.

"It's increasingly clear that helping kids succeed in their earliest years of school can have an impact in later grades -- and even beyond. And it starts in preschool, where children acquire the skills to thrive in kindergarten," Peters said.

 

SJSU Fraternity Fire Was Not Arson, SJFD Continues Investigation

San Jose fire investigators were not able to determine the cause of a blaze that destroyed a fraternity house near San Jose State University on Tuesday, but they have ruled out arson, a fire spokeswoman said Wednesday.

The five-alarm fire at the Kappa Sigma fraternity house, located at 168 S. 11th St., caused an estimated $1.7 million in damage and displaced 28 students. Residents were stirred awake around 3:20 a.m. by sounds of screaming and the smell of smoke. San Jose fire Capt.

Mary Gutierrez said firefighters entered the home and battled the blaze from inside for about 45 minutes. When it began to look like the building might collapse, they moved outside and fought the fire defensively.

The blaze was controlled at about 6:10 a.m. One firefighter was treated at a hospital for second-degree burns to his hands.

The second floor was badly burned, and there was severe water damage to the first floor, Gutierrez said.

The damage was so extensive that it was hard to determine the origin of the fire, Gutierrez said, although some students had reported the blaze started in the laundry room.

She said the fire department has completed its investigation into the fire and determined it was not arson.

The university alumnus who owns the fraternity house can hire a private investigator or have the insurance company conduct a separate investigation, Gutierrez said.

All of the fraternity members managed to escape safely, but a number left behind valuable belongings.

The American Red Cross provided assistance, and neighboring fraternity houses have offered temporary housing assistance to the displaced residents. San Jose State University officials have set up a relief fund to help them recover. To donate to the relief fund online, visit http://www.sjsu.edu/advancement/giving.

 

Program for Parents to Address Children's Destructive Behaviors Launched in Vietnamese

A program that teaches Santa Clara County parents how to address destructive behaviors by their children was launched in San Jose Wednesday -- this time, in Vietnamese.

The program, called the Parent Project, is a 12-week course in which specially trained facilitators teach parents strategies for preventing, identifying, and stopping harmful behavior such as running away, truancy, drug abuse, gang involvement and violence.

The Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office launched the program in 2008 in English and Spanish, and is now offering it in Vietnamese for the first time.

Tuition for the class is $120, with limited scholarships available. Those interested in learning more about the program can call Mai Doan at (408) 347-5239. Spanish speakers may call Gloria Maturino at (408) 808-3794.

 

Architects, Engineers Compete to Create Canned Food Sculptures

Canned food is being seen in a new light Wednesday as some of San Francisco's top architects and engineers present unique pieces of art -- made entirely of canned goods -- to a panel of celebrity judges.

More than 50,000 cans were used to create designs and sculptures as part of the "canstruction" competition, hosted by the San Francisco Food bank.

All of the cans will be donated to the food bank afterward, organizers said. Olympic champion figure skater Brian Boitano and Corey Lee, owner and chef of Benu restaurant, will be among the judges.

The theme of this year's competition is "The Spirit of San Francisco," and all 13 can sculptures will be on display to the public today at the Metreon's City View.

One of the entries depicts San Francisco Giants pitcher Brian Wilson's famed beard; another is in the shape of a cable car.

The exhibit is free of charge and visitors are urged to bring a can of food to donate to the food bank. The large quantity of donated canned goods from this event will be put to good use at the city's food bank, which has seen a 32 percent increase in demand for food assistance this year, according to organizers.

 

San Mateo Supes Vote to Keep Flood Park Open - Temporarily

The San Mateo County Board of Supervisors Wednesday afternoon approved a plan that will temporarily keep Flood Park open through the beginning of next year.

The popular 21-acre public space off Bay Road in Menlo Park had been slated for closure in March, when the county indicated it would have to keep Flood Park closed to save about $200,000 in annual maintenance fees.

The park is currently closed to accommodate the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, which is replacing a water supply pipeline through the area as part of its $4.6 billion project to rebuild the Hetchy Hetchy Regional Water System.

The project is expected to keep the park closed until September, when the county's budget had included a proposal to make the closure permanent to cut costs.

A well-organized community reaction led to the formation of Friends of Flood Park and Save Flood Park, two groups that engaged residents, Menlo Park city officials, county supervisors and department heads in an effort to keep the park open.

During a third day of budget hearings, supervisors Wednesday agreed on a plan that will restore approximately $155,000 to the Department of Public Works, which will use the funds to reopen Flood Park when the SFPUC's construction project has been completed.

"We have anticipated keeping Flood Park open for six months with the bridge money we've received," public works director Jim Porter said.

The department will be able to keep the park open through March 31, 2012, during which time the county can work with residents and Menlo Park officials toward a solution that would permanently avert any type of closure, Porter said. Board president Carole Groom said that closing Flood Park was not an option. "Some way or another, we have to keep it open," Groom said.

 

Motorcyclist Injured in Hit-and-Run on I-880

A motorcyclist was injured in a hit-and-run accident on Interstate Highway 880 in Hayward Wednesday morning, a California Highway Patrol spokesman said.

The crash was reported just before 8 a.m. on southbound I-880 south of Tennyson Road. CHP Officer R. Crawford said the motorcyclist told investigators that a white Dodge Neon or similar vehicle cut him off, causing him to crash.

The motorcyclist was briefly knocked out but regained consciousness when CHP officers arrived. Hayward fire Capt. Thor Poulsen said the motorcyclist suffered chest injuries and possible head injuries and was taken to Eden Medical Center for treatment.

Poulsen said that less than 15 minutes after that accident, there was another crash on southbound I-880 near the Interstate Highway 238 interchange.

Three vehicles were involved in that crash, and one person was transported to a hospital.

The crashes snarled traffic on both sides of the highway as northbound motorists slowed to catch a glimpse of the activity on the southbound side, he said.

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BART Riders Try Out New Seat Options At Interactive Lab

Same BART Trains Since 1972

BART riders jostled for arm space and tried out sample train seats from across the country today at an interactive lab intended to garner public input for the agency's train replacement project.

The lab is taking place in San Francisco's Justin Herman Plaza until 4 p.m. today.

Participants are being asked to evaluate the seats, including their widths, the materials they are made of and how comfortable they are.

A steady stream of people trickled through the lab stations this morning as those running the lab prepared for a lunchtime rush.

"We picked this location because so many of our commuters -- over half -- are in this area," said Adam Weinstein, a BART marketing and research department manager.

John and Betty Wright of San Francisco stopped by to weigh in. They had received an email from BART about the lab and decided to bring their 3-year-old grandson to evaluate the seats because he loves riding the trains.

Her grandson liked the soft fabric seat covers from Los Angeles, she said, but she preferred what she said are more sanitary options: hard plastic seats from Massachusetts or a seat with a vinyl-covered cushion from Washington, D.C.

"I always worry about the seats' cleanliness," Betty Wright said. She also said that while BART's current seats are nice and spacious, they don't need to be so wide. John Wright said the couple often visits relatives in Oakland and Berkeley and takes their grandkids to school on BART. "We ride for short periods," he said.

The agency has already held 10 interactive labs and has one more scheduled for June 30 in Milpitas.

Weinstein said BART has collected 2,000 surveys in person and another 1,000 online.

"It seems to draw a lot of interest," he said. "People are asking good questions and seem to be engaged."

BART's trains have not been replaced since the system was built in 1972, making them the oldest in the nation, Weinstein said.

A $3 billion dollar capital campaign is currently under way to fund the replacement project.

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Man Who Committed Suicide In Front Of Police Station Was Co-Founder Of Thrasher Magazine

Eric Swenson Left Extraordinary Mark on Skateboarding

A man who committed suicide in front of the San Francisco Police Department's Mission Station on Monday was a co-founder of a popular skateboarding magazine.

The medical examiner's office identified the man who shot himself at about 9 a.m. Monday outside the doors of the police station at 630 Valencia St. as Eric Swenson, a 64-year-old San Francisco resident.

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Swenson was a co-founder of Thrasher Magazine, which started in the 1980s and focuses on the skateboarding culture.

He also co-founded Independent Truck Co., which manufactures skateboard trucks, the metal parts that connect the board to the wheels.

A post on Thrasher Magazine's website states that Swenson's "mark on skateboarding is extraordinary."

"Never one to clamor for the spotlight, he preferred the hard work, orchestrating the show from behind the scenes," the post reads.

Swenson leaves behind his wife Linda and sister Rebekah, "along with a tremendous number of admirers," the site states.

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Celebrities Judging 'Canstruction' Creations To Support Food Bank

SF Giant Brian Wilson's Beard Sculpted from Cans

Canned food is being seen in a new light today as some of San Francisco's top architects and engineers present unique pieces of art -- made entirely of canned goods -- to a panel of celebrity judges. 

More than 50,000 cans were used to create designs and sculptures as part of the "canstruction" competition, hosted by the San Francisco Food bank. All of the cans will be donated to the food bank afterward, organizers said. 

Olympic champion figure skater Brian Boitano and Corey Lee, owner and chef of Benu restaurant, will be among the judges.

The theme of this year's competition is "The Spirit of San Francisco," and all 13 can sculptures will be on display to the public Thursday at the Metreon's City View.

One of the entries depicts San Francisco Giants pitcher Brian Wilson's famed beard; another is in the shape of a cable car. The exhibit is free of charge and visitors are urged to bring a can of food to donate to the food bank.

The large quantity of donated canned goods from this event will be put to good use at the city's food bank, which has seen a 32 percent increase in demand for food assistance this year, according to organizers.

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Man Injured In Mission District Shooting This Morning

Man Taken to Hospital After Mission Shooting

A man was injured in a shooting in San Francisco's Mission District this morning, a police spokesman said.

The shooting was reported at about 9:15 a.m. in the 3200 block of 17th Street, between Mission and Capp streets, police Officer Albie Esparza said.

The victim, a man in his 20s, was taken to San Francisco General Hospital afterward by a private party, Esparza said.

His injuries are not considered life-threatening. Investigators were at the scene of the shooting late this morning looking for evidence, Esparza said.

The motive has not been determined and no arrests have been made in the case, he said.

Anyone with information about the shooting is encouraged to call the Police Department's anonymous tip line at (415) 575-4444 or send a tip by text message to TIP411.

 

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Man Hospitalized, Suspect Arrested After Tenderloin Stabbing

Man Stabbed, Now at San Francisco General Hospital 

A man was hospitalized after being stabbed in the chest in San Francisco's Tenderloin neighborhood early this morning, police said.

The stabbing was reported shortly before 1:10 a.m. in the 300 block of Ellis Street.

The victim and suspect, both 47-year-old men, got into an argument that turned physical when the suspect pulled out a knife and stabbed the victim, according to police.

The victim was taken to San Francisco General Hospital where he was in stable condition this morning.

The suspect has been taken into custody, police said.

His name has not yet been released.

 

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Doctor To Give Update On Bryan Stow's Condition

Update Coming Soon on Giants Fan Condition

A San Francisco General Hospital neurosurgeon will give an update this morning on Giants fan Bryan Stow's condition.

Stow was critically injured when he was beaten outside Dodger Stadium after a March 31 Giants vs. Dodgers game.

Dr. Geoff Manley, the hospital's chief of neurosurgery, is holding a 10 a.m. news conference on Stow's condition, hospital spokeswoman Rachael Kagan said.

Stow, a 42-year-old Santa Cruz father of two who works as an emergency medical technician in Santa Clara County, was transferred to San Francisco from a Los Angeles hospital in May.

The news conference follows developments earlier this week concerning the prime suspect in Stow's beating, Giovanni Ramirez, 31, of Los Angeles.

Ramirez has not been charged with Stow's beating but had his parole revoked Monday for an unrelated offense and will spend 10 months behind bars.

 

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Police Chase Robbery Suspect Onto I-280

Early Robbery Goes onto I-280

A robbery suspect briefly led authorities on a chase on Interstate Highway 280 in San Francisco this morning, a California Highway Patrol spokesman said.

The CHP received word at 8:35 a.m. that San Francisco police were in pursuit of a robbery suspect who had just gotten onto northbound Highway 280 at Geneva Avenue, CHP Officer Tony Tam said.

But before CHP officers could get into position to stop or follow the car, it had already exited the highway at the next off-ramp at San Jose Avenue, Tam said.

He did not know if the suspect had been taken into custody. San Francisco police spokesman Officer Albie Esparza did not have any information about the pursuit as of 8:50 a.m.

 

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