SF News

San Francisco Bay Area Thursday News Roundup

Barry Bonds Asks for Conviction to be Overturned

Home-run champion Barry Bonds asked a federal judge in San Francisco Wednesday to overturn his conviction on the only count on which he was found guilty in April.

The count was obstructing justice by giving evasive testimony in 2003 to a grand jury investigating steroid distribution by the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative, or BALCO.

Bonds' lawyers argue in papers filed with U.S. District Judge Susan Illston that a statement the trial jurors identified as evasive was rambling but not untruthful, and was therefore not a crime.

"Unauthorized rambling is not a crime," the defense attorneys wrote. The former San Francisco Giants slugger's motion asks for either a judgment of acquittal or an order for a new trial on that count.

At Bonds' trial in Illston's court in April, the jury deadlocked on three other charges that he lied when he told the 2003 grand jury he never knowingly took steroids or human growth hormone or received any kind of injection from his trainer, Greg Anderson. Illston declared a mistrial on those charges and is scheduled to set a new trial date on those counts at a July 1 hearing, unless prosecutors decide not to retry Bonds.

At that hearing, Illston is also expected to give prosecutors a deadline for filing a response to the Wednesday's motion. Joshua Eaton, a spokesman for U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag, said prosecutors have no comment on retrial plans or the defense motion.

"We are not commenting on any matters related to the Bonds prosecution," Eaton said.

The 2003 statement that the trial jurors found to be evasive was Bonds' response to a prosecutor's question about whether Anderson had ever given him anything that required a syringe to inject himself with. In that answer, Bonds said he did not talk to Anderson about the trainer's business.

He referred to himself as a "celebrity child with a famous father," baseball player Bobby Bonds, and said, "I just don't get into other people's business because of my father's situation, you see."

 

Former BART Cop Mehserle Released From Jail, Spends Time with Family

Former BART police officer Johannes Mehserle is spending time with his family this week after his release from jail for killing BART passenger Oscar Grant III, his attorney said Wednesday.

Mehserle, 29, was released from the Los Angeles County Men's Central Jail at about 12:30 a.m. Monday after serving a total of about a year in custody for his involuntary manslaughter conviction for killing Grant, a 22-year-old Hayward man, at the Fruitvale station in Oakland shortly after 2 a.m. on Jan. 1, 2009.

Mehserle "is glad to be out of custody and spending time with his family," Michael Rains, his lawyer, said.

Mehserle is now at an undisclosed location with his girlfriend and their 2 1/2-year-old son and will also be spending time with his parents, his sister and other family members, Rains said.

Rains said Mehserle will begin looking for a job next week but at this point he does not know what will materialize or where Mehserle will wind up living.

"Where he settles down depends on safety, security and job considerations," Rains said.

Mehserle shot Grant after he and other BART officers responded to reports that there had been a fight on a train.

In a highly-publicized trial that was moved to Los Angeles because of concerns about whether Mehserle could get a fair trial in Alameda County, Mehserle admitted that he shot and killed Grant but said he had meant to use his Taser on Grant and fired his service gun by mistake.

Alameda County prosecutors sought to have Mehserle convicted of second-degree murder, but in a verdict on July 8 that sparked a large protest in downtown Oakland, jurors only convicted Mehserle of the lesser charge of involuntary manslaughter.

On Nov. 5, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Robert Perry sentenced Mehserle to two years in custody. Mehserle was released after serving only one year because of credits he received.

 

Jury Hears Closing Arguments in Antioch Murder Trial

Jurors heard closing arguments Wednesday in the trial for an Antioch woman accused of torturing and abusing her two foster children for years and ultimately killing one of them in 2008.

On Sept. 2, 2008, Antioch police were called to the home of Shemeeka Davis, now 40, where they found 15-year-old Jazzmin Davis dead on the floor.

She had died about two hours earlier, but Davis did not call 911.

Instead, she called her mother, who eventually called police, attorneys said.

At the time of her death, Jazzmin, who was 5 feet 7 inches tall, weighed only 78 pounds and had scars and injuries covering her entire body, prosecutor Satish Jallepalli said.

The coroner found that she died from a combination of physical abuse and malnutrition, Jallepalli said.

Jazzmin's twin brother was also severely malnourished and had extensive injuries, but he lived and was able to testify during trial to the abuse he and his sister suffered at the hands of Davis, who had cared for them since birth.

Davis has entered a dual plea of not guilty and not guilty by reason of insanity to one count of murder, two counts of torture and two counts of felony child abuse.

Because of the dual plea, if Davis is found guilty of any of the charges, there will be a second phase to the trial, during which jurors will be asked to decide whether Davis was legally sane at the time she allegedly committed the crimes.

Her attorney, Betty Barker, argued throughout the trial that Davis suffered from several severe mental illnesses, including psychotic delusions, and was therefore unable to form the intent to torture either of the children or to murder Jazzmin. T

he jury began deliberating in the case Wednesday afternoon in Contra Costa County Superior Court in Martinez and are expected to resume deliberations today at 9 a.m.

 

2 Boys Arrested for Slaughtering Chickens

Two boys have been arrested on suspicion of cruelty to animals after they allegedly broke into a chicken coop at a community garden and slaughtered 11 chickens with a shovel over the weekend, Alameda police said.

Police arrested a 9-year-old Hayward boy Wednesday morning after gathering information from a 12-year-old Oakland boy who was arrested Tuesday for allegedly killing chickens at the garden, located at Lemoore Road at the former Alameda Naval Air Station, Sgt. Wayland Gee said.

Witnesses reported seeing the two beating the animals at the chicken coop run by the Alameda Point Collaborative, a nonprofit that provides transitional housing and support for about 500 people, including 300 children, who were once homeless, Gee said.

A resident at the collaborative first discovered the lock leading to the garden was broken, before seeing the dead chickens and a shovel covered in blood Sunday afternoon, executive director Doug Biggs said. The man called animal control, which then notified Alameda police.

The chicken coop is part of the collaborative's Growing Youth Project, which is designed to provide employment, teach responsibility and provide access to healthy food to children who care for the chickens and the garden, Biggs said.

Seven of the 18 chickens were unharmed, but the loss of the chickens puts a strain on the collaborative, which uses their eggs to provide breakfast for its residents on Wednesdays, he said.

The eggs are also valuable to the 10 children who care for the chickens, and sell their eggs to fundraise for field trips and outings, Biggs said.

The financial loss of the dead chickens is about $500, but it could mean that the summer camping trip, which involves about 25 children, will be canceled, he said.

The 12-year-old and 9-year-old have been referred to juvenile probation and it does not appear that there are any others involved with killing the chickens, Gee said.

It is not clear if either of the boys have a history of juvenile delinquency, he said.

 

SFMTA Chief Nat Ford to Leave Agency at Month's End

After months of speculation that the head of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency was looking to leave, executive director Nathaniel Ford Wednesday night confirmed that he will depart the agency by month's end, two and a half years before his contract's end.

The decision was apparently mutual, according to the agency's Board of Director's Chairman Tom Nolan.

"A series of things came together. The bottom line is it's a good time for him and a good time for us," Nolan said.

"Did I accomplish everything I set out to do? No, but I think that I'm leaving the agency in much better shape than I found it," Ford said outside an awards event Wednesday night.

Recent developments at the agency include a new, binding three-year contract between the SFMTA and its transit operators' union and progress with planning and securing funding for the Central Subway project.

"A great deal of action has been taken care of, or are on task," Ford said.

Agency executives, including Ford, were attending Wednesday night's Golden Wheel Awards, sponsored by the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, where the agency's

Livable Streets team was being recognized for its work in creating green separated bikeways, which Ford cited as further progress.

Ford said that he does not yet have another job lined up, but that he plans to spend time with friends and family while evaluating his options.

His departure will be certified at the board's next regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday.

Ford, who joined the SFMTA as its CEO in 2006, will receive a separation package of $380,000 that includes a year's salary, deferred compensation and unused vacation time.

The agency's Board of Directors will be charged with selecting Ford's successor, and Mayor Ed Lee said he expects the board will scrutinize candidates to ensure that the agency continues the city's "efforts to build the best public transit system for all San Franciscans."

Should the board not have Ford's replacement lined up before June 30, the agency's first deputy executive director, Carter Rohan, will become the interim executive director.

 

SJ Teacher Arraigned on Child Sexual Abuse Charges

A teacher in San Jose accused of sexually abusing a child was arraigned Wednesday but did not enter a plea, the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office said.

Colette Phelps, who has taught at the private Stratford School in San Jose for the past five years, is charged with two counts of committing a lewd or lascivious act with a child aged 14 or 15.

The acts are alleged to have occurred with a teenage boy between April 10 and June 1 of this year, district attorney's spokeswoman Amy Cornell said. Phelps, 28, of Los Gatos, appeared in Santa Clara County Superior Court at 9:30 a.m. but did not enter a plea, according to Cornell.

Phelps was ordered to return to court to enter a plea on July 8 at 9:30 a.m. in Department 23. Stratford Schools founder Sherry Adams said in a statement that the school put Phelps on indefinite leave as soon as it learned of the situation and then fired her.

"We are taking this matter very seriously," Adams said. "We have done our utmost to fully cooperate with the police during the investigation as well as ensure the privacy of all involved."

Adams said the school regularly consults with experts on school safety policies, training and human resources on the safety measures it has in place, which include background checks, fingerprinting and specific training related to child safety.

San Jose Police received reports at around 10 a.m. on June 1 that Phelps had allegedly committed lewd acts with a Stratford School student.

Later that day Phelps was arrested on suspicion of child sexual abuse, according to police.

She was booked into Santa Clara County Jail and is now out of custody, according to police. Defense attorney Steve Clark did not return a call requesting comment.

 

Study: SF Poor Youth Bombarded with Illegal Alcohol Ads

A group of students studying alcohol advertising in San Francisco have completed a study that confirms what many of them already knew: the city's low-income youth are bombarded with messages about drinking, often to an illegal extent.

San Francisco Youth Creating Community Change, a citywide coalition of young adults using public health approaches to reduce underage drinking and improve neighborhood safety, surveyed about one-tenth of the city's off-site alcohol outlets to see if they were in compliance of the state's "Lee Law."

The law, named for Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, requires corner stores that serve alcohol to devote no more than one-third of their window space to alcohol advertising. More than half of the outlets the students surveyed broke that rule, while 27 percent had more than 60 percent of their storefronts covered in alcohol advertising, according to a report released Wednesday.

"San Francisco Youth Creating Community Change believes that steps must be taken to address this issue," the students said in the report.

The young researchers focused on the Mission and Excelsior districts and Bayview-Hunters Point, Tenderloin, Japantown, Portola and South of Market neighborhoods.

They found that alcohol was easily the most dominant product in storefront advertising -- it was twice as prevalent as both junk food and tobacco advertising, according to the report.

Advertising for healthy food such as produce comprised just 5 percent of the ads the students encountered.

A spokesman for the Youth Leadership Institute, which staffs the Youth Creating Community Change coalition, said the findings were particularly troubling because many youth rely on the corner stores for snacks, groceries and other household items.

"If they're getting exposed to the alcohol advertising, it's going to impact the decisions they make," spokesman Andre Morand said.

Several studies have linked alcohol advertising and promotion to younger and increased alcohol consumption.

 

Hayward Police Searching for Suspects in Robberies, Shootings

Hayward police said they are looking for two male suspects believed to be responsible for two robberies and shootings near the South Hayward BART station late Tuesday night.

Lt. Roger Keener said the first incident occurred about 11:15 p.m. Tuesday when two women in their late teens or early 20s were accosted by the two suspects as they were walking on Tennyson Road near the BART station, about 25 feet outside BART property.

He said one of the suspects fired a shot in the air, apparently as a scare tactic or as a way of getting the victims' attention.

The suspects then took some valuables from the women, Keener said.

A few minutes later, at about 11:17 p.m., the suspects approached a man and his wife who had exited the BART station and were walking west on Tennyson Road in the same area where the women had been robbed, according to Keener.

One of the suspects had a gun and they demanded that the victims hand over their wallet and purse, Keener said. He said the victims didn't resist and gave the suspects their possessions, but the armed suspect still shot the man several times before he and his accomplice ran away, Keener said.

The victim was taken to a hospital, where he is in stable condition and has been able to talk to investigators, according to Keener.

The man's wife was not injured. Keener described the suspects as two Hispanic males who are in their late teens or early 20s and are about 5 feet 8 inches tall with thin builds.

He said both suspects were dressed in black clothes.

One suspect had a white covering over his face and the other suspect pulled his black T-shirt over his head to cover his face, Keener said. Hayward police said anyone with information about the robberies and shootings is urged to call them at (510) 293-7272 or (510) 293-7000.

 

Oakland Man Accused of Robbing, Raping Arrested

A man accused of robbing and raping a 28-year-old North Oakland woman who captured him on video with her cellphone was arrested Tuesday night, police said Wednesday.

The suspect, 47-year-old Dion McDaniel of Oakland, is suspected of breaking into the woman's home in the 900 block of Apgar Street on the morning of June 7 while she was home alone, police said.

The woman confronted the intruder and filmed him on her cellphone, but after that he sexually assaulted her and then left with electronics taken from the home, police said.

The video shows a man walking out of the house with a box full of property while the woman asks him how he got in and whether he will leave.

The Oakland Police Department released the video and accompanying still images on June 9, asking the public to help identify the suspect. McDaniel, who court documents said also goes by "Darryl" sometimes, was arrested at 11:30 p.m. Tuesday by Oakland police officers and parole agents.

He was charged Wednesday with four felony counts of burglary, attempted oral copulation, forcible rape and forcible sodomy, according to court documents.

Alameda County Deputy District Attorney Teresa Drenick said the rape and sodomy charges carry enhancements because they allegedly occurred during a robbery.

McDaniel also has an extensive criminal history, including 11 prior felony convictions for drug and burglary offenses.

He will be arraigned today at the Wiley W. Manuel Courthouse at 661 Washington St. in Oakland, Drenick said.

 

Sonoma Supes Restore Funds for Road Maintenance, Sherriff's Helicopter 

Money to maintain 100 miles of roads and help keep the sheriff's office's helicopter flying were added back to the fiscal year 2011-12 Sonoma County budget Wednesday morning.

The Board of Supervisors restored those items by a straw vote.

A final vote is scheduled for this morning. County Administrator Veronica Ferguson identified areas where $42.8 million had to be cut from the budget.

Department heads also compiled lists of programs they wanted spared from the budget ax.

Supervisors spent the least three days reviewing those items that were placed on a budget restorations list.

Programs and positions reinstated in the general fund budget by Wednesday's straw vote total $7.1 million.

Restored items related to the criminal justice system total $4.7 million.

Several board members indicated before the budget hearings this week that public safety, children and county residents who are particularly vulnerable to service cuts would be their priorities when adding people and programs back in the budget.

The total county budget is $1.2 billion, and the general fund portion of the budget for most county services was $379 million before this week's hearings.

The board agreed to restore $900,000 to the sheriff's office's Henry-1 helicopter's $1.9 million budget that was slated, along with five employees, for elimination.

The helicopter responded 24/7 to searches and rescues, fires and law enforcement activities inside and outside the county.

In addition to the $900,000, Sheriff Steve Freitas is adding to the helicopter budget the $300,000 that it would have spent to mothball Henry-1.

Freitas also is shifting $200,000 in unspent revenue that had been set aside for a department audit. The helicopter budget now stands at $1.4 million.

The helicopter crew will be on duty eight hours and on call 16 hours five days a week, Freitas said.

The crew may or may not be available to respond to emergencies on the other two days, Freitas said.

 

America's Cup Organizers Unveil Field of Teams

Organizers of the 34th America's Cup in San Francisco Wednesday unveiled the field of teams who will compete in the sailing race in 2013.

Representatives of teams from China, Italy, New Zealand, South Korea, Sweden and France, which has two teams, joined the U.S. team, Oracle Racing, at a news conference at the Ferry Building Wednesday morning.

A ninth team that will contend will be announced next week in Europe.

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee joined race officials to welcome the teams to the event and said he is looking forward to "how exciting this race is going to be."

The AC45 catamarans being used in upcoming America's Cup World Series races were taken out on the Bay on Monday and made headlines when one of Oracle Racing's vessels capsized.

Helmsman Russell Coutts, one of the crewmembers who fell from the boat when it capsized, said the windy conditions in the Bay make it hard to separate being on the edge from going over it.

"One of the challenges ... is recognizing where that point is," Coutts said. "We're starting to recognize when that limit is reached."

Richard Worth, chairman of the America's Cup Event Authority, said the incident was an example of the "fast and dangerous new boats" being used in the upcoming races. A larger and even faster boat, the AC72 catamaran, will be used in the America's Cup regatta held in 2013.

Of the teams taking part in the America's Cup race, the Korean team is new to the event, while China is entering for just the second time. The America's Cup World Series races start in August in Portugal.

Other events are planned in the United Kingdom in September and San Diego in November before two World Series events and the Louis Vuitton Cup will be held in San Francisco in 2012.

The America's Cup Challenger Series will be held from July 13 to Sept. 1, 2013, and the America's Cup Finals will take place from Sept. 7 to Sept. 22, 2013.

 

Bicyclist Dies After Being Hit By Car in Castro Valley

A bicyclist died after being struck by a car in Castro Valley Wednesday morning, according to the California Highway Patrol.

The collision occurred at about 9:40 a.m. near the intersection of Fairmont Drive and Foothill Boulevard.

A 32-year-old San Francisco woman was driving a 1995 Honda Civic east on Fairmont Drive at about 35 mph when she diverted her eyes from the roadway and allowed the car to veer to the right, according to the CHP.

The Honda struck a bicyclist who was also traveling east on Fairmont Drive.

The bicyclist, 56-year-old Timothy Bucher, hit his head on the windshield of the car and landed in the roadway, CHP officials said.

Bucher was wearing his helmet but still suffered major injuries.

He was taken to Eden Medical Center where he was pronounced dead, according to the CHP.

The driver of the Honda was not arrested, but the collision remains under investigation.

Drugs and alcohol are not believed to have played a role in the crash.

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Man Shot in Bayview Neighborhood Late Wednesday Night

A man was shot multiple times in San Francisco's Bayview neighborhood late Wednesday night, a police spokesman said.

Police responded to reports of a shooting at Third Street and Newcomb Avenue at around 11:15 p.m., police Officer Albie Esparza said.

Officers found a man in his mid 20s suffering from multiple gunshot wounds to his abdomen.

He was taken to a hospital and his condition was unknown as of midnight, Esparza said.

No suspect descriptions were immediately available and no arrests have been made.

A white vehicle was possibly seen fleeing the scene, according to Esparza.

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City Attorney Reaches Settlement With Smoke Shops Accused of Illegal Paraphernalia

San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera announced Tuesday a settlement with five smoke shops in the city accused of selling illegal drug paraphernalia exclusively intended for users and dealers of cocaine, crack and methamphetamine.

Herrera had filed civil lawsuits in February against the shops, four of which are located in the Ingleside District and the other two in the Mission District.

The stores are Mission Gifts and Tobacco at 4784 Mission St., Rock On at 4447 Mission St., The Platinum at 5901 Mission St., House of Cigarettes at 912 Geneva Ave., and Tobacco Plaza Center Smoke and Gift Shop at 3008 16th St.

A sixth store listed in the original complaint in February, Smokes, Etc. at 3186 16th St., has not settled but "is close in settlement talks," said city attorney's spokesman Jack Song.

No one was immediately available to comment on the settlement at any of the six stores. U

nder the settlement agreed upon by the city attorney's office and the stores, a five-year injunction was put in place against each of the shop operators barring them from selling any illegal drug paraphernalia, and the stores had to pay between $5,000 and $11,000 in civil penalties.

The settlement also requires 80 percent of each of the storefront's windows and doors be kept clear so police can see inside, and subjects them to unannounced inspections and searches, according to Herrera's office.

Penalties of up to $6,000 can be sought for each violation of the agreement.

"I hope (Tuesday's) settlement sends a strong message to other neighborhood smoke shops in the city that San Francisco does not tolerate trafficking of illegal drug paraphernalia," Herrera said in a statement.

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Field Of Teams Racing In America's Cup Unveiled Today

Organizers of the 34th America's Cup in San Francisco today unveiled the field of teams who will compete in the sailing race in 2013.

Representatives of teams from China, Italy, New Zealand, South Korea, Sweden and France, which has two teams, joined the U.S. team, Oracle Racing, at a news conference at the Ferry Building this morning.

A ninth team that will contend will be announced next week in Europe.

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee joined race officials to welcome the teams to the event and said he is looking forward to "how exciting this race is going to be."

The AC45 catamarans being used in upcoming America's Cup World Series races were taken out on the Bay on Monday and made headlines when one of Oracle Racing's vessels capsized.

Helmsman Russell Coutts, one of the crewmembers who fell from the boat when it capsized, said the windy conditions in the Bay make it hard to separate being on the edge from going over it. "One of the challenges ... is recognizing where that point is," Coutts said. "We're starting to recognize when that limit is reached."

Richard Worth, chairman of the America's Cup Event Authority, said the incident was an example of the "fast and dangerous new boats" being used in the upcoming races.

A larger and even faster boat, the AC72 catamaran, will be used in the America's Cup regatta held in 2013.

Of the teams taking part in the America's Cup race, the Korean team is new to the event, while China is entering for just the second time.

The America's Cup World Series races start in August in Portugal.

Other events are planned in the United Kingdom in September and San Diego in November before two World Series events and the Louis Vuitton Cup will be held in San Francisco in 2012.

The America's Cup Challenger Series will be held from July 13 to Sept. 1, 2013, and the America's Cup Finals will take place from Sept. 7 to Sept. 22, 2013.

BMW Oracle Racing, also owned by Oracle CEO Larry Ellison, won the previous America's Cup in 2010 on behalf of San Francisco's Golden Gate Yacht Club and got to choose the host city for the next race.

The team announced in December that it had selected San Francisco to host the event.

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Man Accused Of 2010 Fatal Shooting Ordered To Stand Trial

A man accused of a 2010 fatal shooting outside a nightclub near San Francisco's Fisherman's Wharf was ordered today to stand trial on a murder charge.

Keandre Davis, 21, is accused of killing 19-year-old Lawon Marshawn Hall outside Club Suede at 383 Bay St. on Feb. 7, 2010.

Three other people were injured in the shooting. Prosecutors said Davis and another suspect cornered Hall as he was leaving the club and shot him multiple times.

Davis, a Richmond resident, was arrested at the scene after Robert Burns, a patrol special officer in the area, witnessed the shooting and shot him.

A man suspected of being the second shooter was arrested in the days after the murder, but the district attorney's office declined to file charges against him.

At the conclusion of a preliminary hearing in San Francisco Superior Court that started last month and finished today, Judge Bruce Chan ordered Davis to stand trial on one count of murder with an enhancement for the use of a handgun, prosecutors said.

Davis will return to court on July 8 to be formally arraigned on the charges.

Since the shooting, Club Suede has been ordered permanently closed by a judge.

Earlier this month, Burns, who testified at the preliminary hearing, was revoked of his appointment as a patrol special officer by the Police Commission because of disciplinary charges related to proper wearing of his uniform, insurance and training.

Patrol special officers are authorized under the city charter to provide supplementary police patrols and are contracted to perform private security for businesses in their appointed areas of the city.

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Chiu Proposes To Borrow Up To $170 Million For Veterans Building Repairs

Legislation was introduced at the San Francisco Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday to borrow up to $170 million to repair the War Memorial Veterans Building in the city's Civic Center neighborhood.

The proposal, introduced by San Francisco Board of Supervisors President David Chiu and co-sponsored by Mayor Ed Lee, would be funded by certificates of participation, a financing mechanism the city uses to pay for projects by selling shares of lease revenues for the assets involved.

The Veterans Building houses the Herbst Theatre, where President Harry Truman signed the United Nations Charter in 1945.

The Japanese Peace Treaty was also drawn up in the building. Chiu said the building "played a role in local, state and world history" and "needs this help badly."

The building is seismically unsafe, lacks complete fire alarm and sprinkler systems, and has inadequate electrical power distribution and deteriorated domestic and drinking water systems.

Chiu said the certificates of participation would help get the construction under way and hopefully completed by summer 2015.

Supervisor Mark Farrell has criticized the use of certificates of participation, which have created more than $1.3 billion in non-voter-approved debt -- a practice he said masks the true costs of city government.

The War Memorial complex will already be undergoing changes in the near future regardless of whether the renovation proposal is approved.

A veterans memorial is planned to be installed next year in Memorial Court, located between the War Memorial Opera House and the Veterans Building.

Three final design proposals were put on display last week at the Veterans Building and are also available at www.sfveteransmemorial.org.

The winner of the design contest will be announced next month, and the memorial is scheduled to be formally dedicated on Veterans Day 2012.

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Bonds Asks Trial Judge To Overturn His Conviction

 Home-run champion Barry Bonds asked a federal judge in San Francisco today to overturn his conviction on the only count on which he was found guilty in April.

The count was obstructing justice by giving evasive testimony in 2003 to a grand jury investigating steroid distribution by the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative, or BALCO.

Bonds' lawyers argue in papers filed with U.S. District Judge Susan Illston that a statement the trial jurors identified as evasive was rambling but not untruthful, and was therefore not a crime. "Unauthorized rambling is not a crime," the defense attorneys wrote.

The former San Francisco Giants slugger's motion asks for either a judgment of acquittal or an order for a new trial on that count.

At Bonds' trial in Illston's court in April, the jury deadlocked on three other charges that he lied when he told the 2003 grand jury he never knowingly took steroids or human growth hormone or received any kind of injection from his trainer, Greg Anderson.

Illston declared a mistrial on those charges and is scheduled to set a new trial date on those counts at a July 1 hearing, unless prosecutors decide not to retry Bonds.

At that hearing, Illston is also expected to give prosecutors a deadline for filing a response to the today's motion.

Joshua Eaton, a spokesman for U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag, said prosecutors have no comment on retrial plans or the defense motion. "We are not commenting on any matters related to the Bonds prosecution," Eaton said.

The 2003 statement that the trial jurors found to be evasive was Bonds' response to a prosecutor's question about whether Anderson had ever given him anything that required a syringe to inject himself with.

In that answer, Bonds said he did not talk to Anderson about the trainer's business.

He referred to himself as a "celebrity child with a famous father," baseball player Bobby Bonds, and said, "I just don't get into other people's business because of my father's situation, you see."

Bonds' lawyers say in the motion that Bonds did directly answer that same question at least four other times in the grand jury testimony when he denied receiving injections from Anderson."The government may not have liked his answers, but Mr. Bonds did answer the questions put to him about injectable steroids," the attorneys said. "A single nonresponsive answer, coupled with responsive answers to the same question, cannot be criminally evasive, cannot be material and cannot be intentionally obstructive," the lawyers wrote.

The motion also contends that Bonds didn't receive the legally required notice of the charge against him because the allegedly evasive statement was not specifically cited in the 2007 indictment filed against him.

Bonds, 46, set Major League Baseball's single-season home-run record of 73 while playing for the Giants in 2001 and hit the all-time record of 762 in his last season in 2007.

Bonds is one of 11 people who were eventually indicted in connection with the BALCO investigation on charges of illegally distributing drugs or lying in connection with the probe.

The others all pleaded guilty or were convicted of various charges.

 

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Suspicious Package At Federal Building Deemed Harmless

A suspicious package that prompted a shelter-in-place warning at the Federal Building at 450 Golden Gate Ave. in San Francisco this afternoon has been deemed harmless.

"The situation has been resolved. All clear, all clear," the building's occupants were told over a loudspeaker at 2:20 p.m.

The package was discovered on a conveyor belt in the building's basement mailroom at about noon, San Francisco Police Officer Albie Esparza said.

Esparza said the department's bomb squad aided in the probe.

During the two-hour investigation, occupants of the fourth through 20th floors of the building were instructed to shelter in place.

People on the first through third floors were told to move to the Turk Street side of the building, and those on the basement and sub-basement floors were evacuated.

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Shelter-In-Place Warning Issued At Federal Building On Golden Gate Ave

Occupants of the Federal Building at 450 Golden Gate Ave. in San Francisco have been told to shelter in place because of an unspecified emergency.

An announcement over the building's loudspeaker early this afternoon stated that emergency crews were responding to a situation.

No details were given. The building's occupants were told, "this is not a drill," and were instructed to shelter in place until further notice.

People on the first through third floors were advised to move to a higher floor.

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Man Pistol-Whipped During Carjacking Attempt In Visitacion Valley

A man was pistol-whipped during an attempted carjacking in San Francisco's Visitacion Valley neighborhood on Tuesday night, police said.

The attack was reported at about 10 p.m. in the first block of Brookdale Avenue.

The 26-year-old man was in his car when two men approached and one pointed a handgun at him, according to police.

The suspects demanded the victim's car and when he refused, one of them hit him in the face with the gun and then they both ran away, police said.

They had not been found as of this morning. The victim was taken to San Francisco General Hospital to be treated for his injuries, which are not life-threatening.

Anyone with information about the case 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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San Francisco Bay Area Wednesday News Roundup

Prop 8 Ruling by Homosexual Federal Judge Upheld

A federal judge who overturned Proposition 8 last year was not required to disqualify himself because he is in a long-term gay relationship, another jurist ruled in San Francisco Tuesday.

Chief U.S. District Judge James Ware Tuesday afternoon turned down a bid by Proposition 8 sponsors for the nullification of now-retired U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker's 2010 ruling that the same-sex marriage ban is unconstitutional. They had argued that Walker could benefit from his own ruling because he might want to marry someday.

"It is not reasonable to presume that a judge is incapable of making an impartial decision about the constitutionality of a law solely because, as a citizen, the judge could be affected by the proceedings," Ware wrote.

The decision leaves Walker's ruling intact while proceedings shift back to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, where the Proposition 8 sponsors are seeking to appeal Walker's conclusions.

If Ware had invalidated Walker's decision, the appeal would have been moot and there would instead have been a new trial on a lawsuit filed by two same-sex couples in 2009.

The appeals court has stayed Walker's ruling during the appeal, leaving the 2008 measure in place for the time being. Proposition 8's sponsors and their committee, Protect Marriage, claimed in papers filed in April that Walker had a conflict of interest because the existence of his long-term relationship raised the possibility that he might want to wed his partner.

Walker publicly disclosed this spring, after retiring, that he had a 10-year relationship with a male physician, but said he saw no need to have stepped down from the case.

He has not stated publicly whether he may ever want to marry.

Charles Cooper, a lawyer for Protect Marriage, said the group's legal team "obviously disagrees with today's ruling."

"Our legal team will appeal that decision and continue our tireless efforts to defend the will of the people of California to preserve marriage as the union of a man and a woman," he said.

 

EBMUD Directors Approve Budget, Water Rate Increases

East Bay Municipal Utility District directors voted unanimously Tuesday to approve a two-year operating budget that calls for water rate increases of 6 percent a year for each of the next two years.

The rate increases generated little controversy, as only four people spoke on the matter at Tuesday's meeting and board members said only a handful of their constituents had contacted them to oppose the increases.

EBMUD board chairman John Coleman said the increases are needed to maintain the agency's strong bond rating, which will hold down ratepayer costs for major construction projects and infrastructure maintenance.

The first rate hike for the water agency's 1.3 million customers in Alameda and Contra Costa counties will take effect on July 1, and the second increase is scheduled to occur on July 1, 2012.

The increases mean that the typical residential water customer who uses 270 gallons of water a day will see their bill go from $38.66 per month to $40.98 a month in fiscal 2012 and to $43.45 per month in fiscal 2013.

The average residential wastewater customer's monthly bill will go from $15.10 now to $16 in fiscal 2012 and $16.94 in fiscal 2013. EBMUD directors approved a $372 million operating budget for fiscal 2012 and a $395 million budget for fiscal 2013.

Water agency spokesman Charles Hardy said the budgets for the next two years represent only a modest increase over this year's $369 million budget even though the agency's debt service costs have risen and increases are expected in operating expenses for facilities and infrastructure maintenance and petroleum-based products such as paving materials.

Hardy said EBMUD has balanced its budget in recent years by cutting its spending, not filling positions that open up when employees retire or take other jobs and having employees forego pay raises.

 

SJ City Council Reaches Job-Saving Agreement with Police Union

The San Jose City Council Tuesday afternoon unanimously approved an agreement with the San Jose Police Officers' Association on concessions that will save the jobs of 156 police officers.

A tentative agreement was reached on June 3, but was not ratified by the members of the association until Tuesday morning.

Union members voted 674-429 in favor of ratifying the agreement. Even with the concessions, the city is still expected to lay off around 100 police officers amid a $115 million budget deficit, David Low, a spokesman for Mayor Chuck Reed, said.

The terms of the proposal include a 10 percent reduction in salary and benefits for a savings of $12.9 million, but allow an arbitrator to decide whether the reduction will be ongoing or one-time.

If the arbitrator decides the reduction should be ongoing, the contract terms will be for two years and if it is one-time, the terms will be for one year. The terms also allow the city to outsource policing at the airport.

Negotiations on pension reform and sick leave payouts, however, are ongoing.

 

Anti-Violence Video Results in Illegal Gun Chargs, Misdemeanor Citations

A well-intentioned but poorly planned effort to make an anti-violence video resulted in a 14-year-old student being arrested on illegal gun charges and two school employees being given misdemeanor citations, Oakland police and school officials said Tuesday.

Police officers thought a real gunfight was going on when concerned citizens notified them that a small group of teenage boys was running around with rifles at Union Point Park on the Embarcadero at about 11:30 a.m. Saturday, police spokesman Holly Joshi said. 

It turned out that the boys were students from the United for Success Academy and were making an anti-violence video under the supervision of a 50-year-old male teacher and a 25-year-old female counselor, Joshi said.

Most of the guns were replicas, but a 14-year-old boy was carrying a .22-caliber rifle that he had bought on the street, she said.

The 14-year-old was charged with illegal possession of a rifle and taken to Alameda County Juvenile Hall, and the school employees were issued misdemeanor citations for contributing to the delinquency of a minor, according to Joshi.

Oakland schools spokesman Troy Flint said the school employees "had a lapse in judgment" and have been placed on administrative leave while the incident is being investigated.

Flint said one of the school employees had notified someone from the Oakland Police Department about the video shoot but he admitted that most officers didn't know about the filming and the incident could have turned violent.

"There was a potential for a violent or lethal situation, but fortunately there wasn't a confrontation," Flint said.

Joshi said the students and school employees were cooperative with police.

But she said that if the school employees had notified the Police Department about the filming ahead of time, "no one would have given them permission to run around in a park with rifles."

Flint said the video project was "a well-intentioned effort to highlight problems with violent activity" in the community and was part of an ongoing anti-violence program at United for Success.

 

SF Supes Approve Treasure Island Redevelopment Plan

A plan to transform San Francisco's Treasure Island got final approval from the Board of Supervisors Tuesday.

The board voted unanimously in favor of the $1.5 billion project, a week after a long meeting in which the supervisors considered -- and eventually rejected -- an appeal of the environmental review of the proposal.

Over the next two decades, developers plan to add up to 8,000 residential units, up to 140,000 square feet of commercial space and as much as 100,000 square feet of new office space to the island, as well as new and upgraded roads and infrastructure, including a new ferry terminal.

The city has been working to redevelop the 404-acre island in the middle of the Bay since the U.S. Navy closed its base there in 1997.

Opponents of the plan argued that the environmental review did not adequately address various impacts of the project, including increased congestion on the Bay Bridge, the island's vulnerability to flooding from a tsunami or liquefaction from an earthquake, and toxicity left behind at the site of the shuttered naval base.

Work on the project is scheduled to start in mid-2012, with the construction of homes and retail spaces beginning in 2014.

 

Redwood City Boys Arrested for Sexual Assault

Five Redwood City middle school boys have been arrested for allegedly attempting to sexually assault two 12-year-old girls on a school field trip in March, according to the San Mateo County District Attorney's Office.

The five Kennedy Middle School students were arrested June 8, shortly after two female students told their school counselor they had been sexually assaulted on an outing to Stulsaft Park in Redwood City three months ago.

The counselor immediately informed the school principal, who in turn informed police, Redwood City School District spokeswoman Naomi Hunter said.

All of the students -- the victims and their alleged attackers -- were between the ages of 12 and 14 and were part of the school's Newcomer Program, which provides support and instruction to students who have been in the U.S. for less than a year, Hunter said.

School district officials Tuesday vowed to conduct a thorough investigation into the incident and examine all safety policies and procedures pertaining to school trips, district director of assessment and spokeswoman Jane Yuster said.

"Our number one message to parents is that their kids are safe in Redwood City schools and on school-sponsored trips and activities," Yuster said. "The district is very concerned that this potential incident took place," she said.

The five boys were arraigned Monday at the San Mateo County Youth Services Center on felony charges of assault with intent to commit rape, sexual battery and committing a lewd act on a minor under the age of 14, according to the district attorney's office.

 

Massey Pleads Not Guilty by Insanity of Gross Murder

Jess Willard Massey pleaded not guilty and not guilty by reason of insanity Tuesday to the murder of Napa State Hospital psychiatric technician Donna Gross last year.

Two doctors will evaluate Massey's mental health and report to Napa County Superior Court Judge Mark Boessenecker on Aug. 1 when a trial date might be set, Deputy District Attorney Allison Haley said Tuesday afternoon.

Massey, 37, was held over for trial in May on murder, robbery and kidnapping charges.

He allegedly strangled psychiatric technician Donna Gross at the Napa State Hospital where he was a patient on Oct. 23.

Gross, 54, of Concord died of asphyxiation after she was attacked in an enclosed courtyard at the Napa hospital. Gross took a dinner break around 4:30 p.m.

She bought gum at a Target store and checked back in at the hospital at 5:15 p.m., Napa County Sheriff's Capt. Tracey Stuart said. She was robbed of jewelry, gum and less than $2, Stuart said.

Gross's watch, two necklaces and her earrings were found in Massey's room and the gum was found in a trash can on Massey's ward, Stuart said.

The sheriff's office believes Massey used his hands and arms to strangle Gross, Stuart said.

Massey was sent to Napa State Hospital after pleading not guilty by reason of insanity to stabbing a woman in a Sacramento parking garage in May 1996.

Haley said a jury will decide if Massey is guilty of Gross's killing and if convicted, whether Massey was insane at the time.

 

Arson Fire Damages Richmond Elemnetary School

A suspected arson fire seriously damaged the old main building at King Elementary School in Richmond on Monday night, Richmond fire Battalion Chief Merlin Turner said Tuesday.

The fire was reported at about 8:15 p.m. at the school, which is at 234 S. 39th St. Initial reports indicated that several buildings were burning and firefighters quickly called for a second alarm, Turner said.

When crews arrived, they found flames engulfing the entire old main building, which was scheduled to be demolished this summer.

A new, two-story building has been built next to the old building and will house the school in the upcoming school year, West Contra Costa Unified School District spokesman Marin Trujillo said. 

It took 22 firefighters about 45 minutes to get the blaze under control, and two firefighters were treated at the scene for minor burns, Turner said.

The El Cerrito Fire Department assisted. Turner said the fire looked like it had multiple points of origin and was "definitely suspicious."

Police and fire investigators were still investigating Tuesday while crews from the school district boarded up the damaged building.

The new building sustained only minor smoke damage, which Trujillo said would be repaired before school begins again on Aug. 25.

"Luckily it impacted the old building and not the new building," Trujillo said.

He said there were some materials still inside the old building, but the school district's insurance would likely cover the loss.

By the time the new school year begins, Trujillo said the burned building will be removed and the students will occupy the "beautiful brand-new building," which is nearly complete.

A playground will be built on the footprint of the old building once it is gone.

"We're really happy that the new building was not impacted. King is on the way up and this won't slow them down," Trujillo said. 

 

SF Mayor Lee Answers Supes' Questions

In the middle of a busy day of meetings with national and foreign dignitaries, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee paid a visit to the Board of Supervisors for his voter-mandated monthly appearance in board chambers Tuesday.

The mayor answered questions submitted by supervisors on a variety of topics, including affordable housing, foreclosures, graffiti and the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency.

Lee gave scripted answers to the questions and did not announce any new policies on the various issues.

The format of the mayor's appearances has brought criticism from some supervisors who say it lacks spontaneity and prevents in-depth discussion, since the rules don't allow for a back-and-forth between the two sides.

Outside board chambers after the question time, the mayor talked about meeting first lady Michelle Obama at a lunch in the city earlier Tuesday.

Lee said he was "quite spirited" by the meeting and "came back here to say 'Let's go to work.'"

Tuesday evening, he was scheduled to attend a dinner with Mongolian President Tsakhia Elbegdorj, who recently announced he will open a consulate general for his country in San Francisco.

 

Hillsborough Police Investigating Home Bulgaries

Police in Hillsborough are trying to determine if a series of home burglaries that have been reported in the city this month are related.

Inspector Peter Gould said the string of residential break-ins are similar in that they take place during the day when many homes are unoccupied, but so far no common suspect descriptions have emerged from witness accounts.

"They're similar only because of a similar technique," Gould said, adding that in most cases the burglars appeared to have quickly forced their way in, stolen cash or jewelry and quickly fled.

"There is no commonality in the vehicles or description of the suspects," he said.

The most recent burglary occurred in the city Monday at a home in the 1500 block of Bellevue Avenue, sometime between 9:10 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., Gould said.

A suspect or suspects forced open a back door to gain entry and took cash and jewelry before fleeing. In three other recent burglaries -- two on June 1 and a third on Friday -- the burglars also gained entry to the victims' homes by prying open rear sliding doors or French doors, Gould said.

The police department is reminding residents to help prevent break-ins by being certain all side and rear doors are securely locked.

Home alarm systems have been also an effective deterrent, Gould said. The police department is asking residents to immediately report any suspicious people or activity in residential neighborhoods by calling 911.

Hillsborough police is meeting with several other police agencies to compare similar burglaries that have recently plagued Peninsula communities.

 

Coast Guard Rescues Marin Boaters

The U.S. Coast Guard performed a water rescue off of the Marin County coast Tuesday morning, towing six people away from a rocky shoreline after the boat's battery died.

The five adults and one child aboard a 29-foot Bayliner boat called the Coast Guard at 9:38 a.m. to report they were disabled about half a mile north of Muir Beach, Coast Guard search and rescue controller Aaron Coffin said.

It appeared the boat's battery had died, prompting the Coast Guard to advise the boaters to anchor and put on personal floatation devices. When the anchor did not hold well, the Coast Guard dispatched a helicopter and two boats, Coffin said.

"They were at the mercy of the weather. Luckily they put in the call to the Coast Guard," Coffin said.

The rescue boats reached the disabled boat 15 to 20 feet from rocks and safely towed the distressed boat into the Presidio Yacht Club, where it was safely moored just after noon.

No one was injured, according to Coffin. "Another half hour and it would have been disastrous," Coffin added.

 

Hall of Famer Joe Montana Recovering from Ranch Injuries

Hall of Fame football player Joe Montana's much-anticipated presentation on a luxury hotel project at Tuesday night's Santa Clara City Council meeting has been put on hold until he recovers from injuries he suffered at his Calistoga ranch over the weekend.

His attorney, Robert Mezzetti, said Montana was driving around in a small car on his ranch, and in an attempt to avoid hitting his daughter, veered off into nearby woods and hit a tree.

He was taken to a hospital and received treatment for a number of injuries, including a black eye that required stitches, chest pain, and leg injury, Mezzetti said.

He has been released, but Mezzetti said they have asked the city council for a continuance until Montana is recovered.

Montana was supposed 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 planned stadium for the San Francisco 49ers next to the Great America theme park.

The hotel would include an upscale restaurant and would open for business around the same time that the stadium is scheduled to open, in fall 2015.

"He's excited about the project," Mezzetti said. "It looks like a win-win for everybody."

The meeting had not yet been rescheduled, but Councilman Kevin Moore said he is looking forward to hearing about the project when Montana recovers.

"For this guy, it will just be another comeback for him. We'll have to wait a couple of weeks, but the main thing is he's healthy."

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MTA Holding Community Meeting On New Bus Facility Under Construction

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency is holding a community meeting today to provide an update on the construction of a new bus facility in the city's Bayview neighborhood.

The Islais Creek facility will include a bus yard to house 184 vehicles, a building to wash and maintain the buses, and administrative offices, according to Muni officials.

The facility is being built on 8.4 acres of city-owned land at 1301 Cesar Chavez St. Construction began in March and is expected to wrap up in July 2012.

As part of the project, the agency is creating a space along the Islais Creek shoreline for public access that will include a small pedestrian bridge and public art.

The space will also foster local wetlands to allow colonization by native plant and animal life, according to Muni officials.

Today's meeting is scheduled to run from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. and will take place at the Muni Metro East Maintenance facility, located in Room 235 at 601 25th St.

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June 16, 2011

It’s 6:14 a.m., 52°, and we’re headed for 66°. Details are here. The San Francisco Unified School District once again postponed the implementation of feeder schools – where parents choose an elementary school knowing where their child will end up for middle school — reports the San Francisco Chronicle. Time-lapse video of the Mission, from Mission...

A Richmond man was ordered to stand trial for murder Wednesday in the shooting death of a man outside a Fisherman's Wharf-area nightclub more than a year ago. Keandre Davis, 21, allegedly cornered and shot 19-year-old...

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San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency chief Nathaniel Ford will depart his job June 30, leaving behind a mixed legacy and tremendous challenges for his replacement. Ford and Tom Nolan, chairman of the agency's...

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June 15, 2011

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What better way to enjoy the sweet UV rays than to spend the day outdoors practicing and training in the art of firefighting? A number of cadets sat atop a roof at the San Francisco Fire Department Training Facility at 19th and Folsom on Tuesday, learning the proper way to use a chainsaw to breach...

It’s 7 a.m., 54°, and headed to 70°. Details are here. We Built This City had its camera on the moon at 20th and Guerrero. Mission Mission had its camera on the birdman at the Highway 101 entrance, and I know what Andrew means — I’ve never noticed this, either. And Broke-Ass Stuart recommends comida...

First lady Michelle Obama spoke to about 450 guests at campaign fundraisers in Oakland and San Francisco on Tuesday, raising several hundred thousand dollars for President Obama's 2012 re-election campaign and the...

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