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June 15, 2011

The San Francisco school board gave the Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps yet another vote of confidence Tuesday, ensuring that the controversial military leadership program will stick around for at least another...

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Tonight's Screening Brings Never-Before-Seen City Images To Big Screen

Film lovers in San Francisco will be treated to new views of the city tonight when a local film archivist screens his latest project.

Rick Prelinger, a renowned collector of film ephemera, will be presenting a collection of stock footage, outtakes, and home movies, all of which share one thing in common -- San Francisco is the star.

Prelinger has selected footage from the 1930s through the 1960s to give viewers a glimpse of a time gone by through glossy never-before-seen Hollywood feature outtakes and amateur home movies from residents and tourists in tonight's screening of "San Francisco Top to Bottom: The City Seen by Hollywood and Home Moviemakers."

Better known to film and history buffs for his vast film archive and his annual presentation, "Lost Landscapes of San Francisco," Prelinger is also the co-owner of Prelinger Library with his wife Megan.

There is no Dewey Decimal System at this library, where guests are encouraged to be hands-on and make themselves at home among the collection of historical goodies that focus mainly on 19th and 20th century American history and culture.

A research library that has been mainstreamed for the public, the collection consists of printed ephemera, periodicals and government documents. "We're fascinated by what happens when you put historical documents in the hands of ordinary people who may not be professional historians," Megan Prelinger said.

The library houses the couple's personal collection that they opened up to the public in 2004 and the two scholars refer to the space as an extension of their home.

Tonight's screening will bring history to the big screen and offer local film and history lovers a chance to revel in both.

The screening is sponsored by the San Francisco Museum and Historical Society and is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. at Kanbar Hall at the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco.

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Judge Denies Bid To Nullify Walker's Prop 8 Ruling

A federal judge in San Francisco today denied a bid by the sponsors of Proposition 8 to have him nullify a decision that overturned California's ban on same-sex marriage.

The sponsors of the voter initiative claim the original judge in the case, now-retired U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker, had a conflict of interest because he has had a 10-year relationship with another man and might want to get married.

Walker ruled last year that Proposition 8 violates the U.S. Constitution.

That ruling is now being appealed, but Proposition 8 supporters have meanwhile claimed that Walker should have been disqualified from hearing the case because he had an obligation to disclose his relationship and to say whether he wanted to marry.

A lawyer for two couples who sued to block Proposition 8 argued that Walker's ruling is being challenged simply because he is gay and said it is unfair to question his integrity.

U.S. District Judge James Ware heard two hours of arguments on the issue on Monday, and issued his decision this afternoon.

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Oracle Racing Catamaran Capsizes During Demo

If a preview on Monday was any indication, a pledge by organizers of the 2013 America's Cup race that their San Francisco racecourse will challenge the world's best sailors could very well come true.

Oracle Racing crewmember Shannon Falcone suffered dislocated rib cartilage when he was thrown from a capsized AC45 catamaran at about 3 p.m. during a demonstration by two of the team's next-generation America's Cup boats.

Helmsman Russell Coutts also fell from the boat, crashing through the wind sail, but did not need medical attention, according to a post on the Oracle Racing team's website. "It was all in slow motion," Falcone said in a statement. "I didn't think it was going to go all the way over."

The giant catamaran capsized as it was being maneuvered into place for its second media exhibition race of the day, according to Oracle Racing. Both bows of the boat buried in the water, and the catamaran tipped and capsized to starboard.

An Oracle chase boat picked up Falcone and brought him to a San Francisco Fire Department rescue boat, which then took him to the Golden Gate Yacht Club, fire Deputy Chief Pat Gardner said.

Falcone was able to walk to an ambulance waiting at the club that transported him to a hospital for precautionary X-rays.

Gardner said the fire department has been working with the America's Cup race committee on protection and safety procedures.

The department had its rescue teams in place for the first time on Monday. "Everything worked the way it was supposed to," he said.

Monday was also the first time Oracle Racing has sailed in its home waters since winning the 33rd America's Cup in Spain 16 months ago, and it marked the first on-the-water action related to the America's Cup race since San Francisco was named host city of the event.

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Early Morning Two-Alarm Fire Appears To Be Accidental

A two-alarm fire that burned between two buildings in San Francisco's Western Addition neighborhood early this morning appears to have been accidental, a deputy fire chief said.

The fire was reported at 12:58 a.m. between two residential buildings at 1127 Elm St. and 1580 Golden Gate Ave., Deputy Fire Chief Pat Gardner said.

Elm Street is an alleyway between Golden Gate Avenue and Turk Street.

Firefighters responded and extinguished the blaze by 1:37 a.m., a fire dispatcher said. No one was injured by the fire.

The two buildings were briefly evacuated, with all but one resident able to return home after the blaze was put out.

The American Red Cross is assisting that displaced resident with temporary housing, Gardner said.

The blaze caused about $400,000 in damage to one of the buildings and about $50,000 in damage to its contents, he said.

While the fire appears to have been accidental, its exact cause had not been determined as of this morning, Gardner said.

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Woman Robbed In Soma Early This Morning

A woman was robbed of her backpack, cellphone and shoes in San Francisco's South of Market neighborhood early this morning, police said.

The robbery was reported at about 4:10 a.m. near the intersection of 11th and Mission streets.

The 28-year-old victim was approached by a man who demanded her property, according to police.

As two other men also approached the woman, she became frightened and complied with the demand, police said.

The suspects fled with the items, and remain at large. The victim was not injured during the robbery.

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 Tuesday News Roundup

Vallejo Special Education Teacher Arrested for Raping Developmentally Challenged Student Aide

A 56-year-old special education teacher who works at a Vallejo elementary school was arrested Monday on suspicion of raping a developmentally challenged student aide, police said.

Jerry Johnson is alleged to have committed the sexual assault on the Loma Vista Elementary School campus during school hours, police said.

Johnson teaches students who are in kindergarten or pre-kindergarten.

According to police, the victim is 18 years old but has the mentality of a 7-year-old.

The victim, a student aide of Johnson's, assisted other developmentally disabled students, police said. Johnson was taken into custody in Elk Grove, the same city where he resides, with the assistance of the Sacramento County Sheriff's Office, according to Vallejo police.

Johnson was arrested on a warrant for $750,000 on suspicion of rape of a person who is incapable of consenting due to their mental and developmental disabilities, police said.

Police are asking for the public's help in determining if similar incidents have occurred.

Anyone with information is asked to contact police Detective Cpl. John Garcia at (707) 648-4517.

 

Man Found Competent to Stand Trial for Murder of Mother

Psychiatrists at Napa State Hospital have found a Danville man competent to stand trial for the 2006 bludgeoning death of his mother, Contra Costa County Deputy District Attorney Dan Cabral said Monday.

Andrew Mantas, now 21, was 16 when his mother, 43-year-old Dimitra Mantas, was beaten to death with an aluminum baseball bat in the family's Danville home on Nov. 6, 2006.

Police arrested Andrew Mantas just hours after the slaying as he was driving through Blackhawk country club on a stolen golf cart.

He told police he thought someone was after him, his attorney Daniel Horowitz said in the weeks following the slaying.

Horowitz could not be immediately reached for comment Monday afternoon, but has said in the past that Andrew Mantas had been suffering from a progressive mental illness for at least 18 months before his mother's death.

In the weeks before his mother's death, Danville police had documented at least two incidents where Andrew Mantas had randomly attacked people, Horowitz said.

Neighbors also told police that Andrew Mantas had been behaving strangely and knocking on their doors asking for help, Horowitz said.

Just days before Dimitra Mantas was killed, she took her son to her priest and told him she believed he was possessed by demons.

The priest told her that her son needed immediate psychiatric help, Horowitz said. But when Dimitra Mantas took her son to a hospital, hospital staff refused to admit him, Horowitz said.

They told her to take him home and make an appointment for him with a psychologist the following week, Horowitz said.

Two days later, Dimitra Mantas was beaten to death. In the months that followed, Horowitz said Andrew Mantas had no idea his mother was dead or that he had allegedly killed her.

He heard voices and was diagnosed with several severe mental illnesses.

Andrew Mantas has been charged as an adult and his next hearing is scheduled for June 27 in Contra Costa County Superior Court in Martinez.

 

Arbitrator Declares Agreement Rejected by Muni Operators' Union to Become Binding Contract

Less than a week after members of the city's transit operators' union voted down a tentative agreement between the union and the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, an arbitrator declared that the terms of that rejected agreement are to become the operators' binding contract for the next three years.

On Wednesday, union members rejected the agreement, which had been signed by union representatives and SFMTA management, by a vote of 944 to 488.

Union leadership had made a yes-vote recommendation.

That tentative agreement was the product of three months of bargaining between the SFMTA and Transport Workers Union Local 250-A.

In accordance with Proposition G -- passed by city voters last November -- an arbitrator then became responsible for the contract and had to decide between each side's final offers on outstanding issues.

Monday, arbitrator Carol Vendrillo ruled that the terms of the tentative agreement would be binding between the SFMTA and the more than 2,000 union members.

According to Vendrillo's decision, the terms of the agreement "represent the best resolution of these protracted labor negotiations and are in the best interest of both the parties and the riding public."

Vendrillo's decision is final and binding.

The new contract will take effect on July 1, the beginning of the fiscal year, and will remain in effect until 2014, according to the SFMTA.

An arbitration hearing was held with SFMTA management and union representatives on Thursday, when both parties presented their last best offers.

"Further discussion made it clear ... that if any provision of the [agreement] were altered, the careful equilibrium that the parties had established in that agreement would be upset, and virtually all aspects ... would have to be re-opened," Vendrillo wrote in her decision.

In effect, Vendrillo ruled in the union's favor on economic concessions and in the SFMTA's favor regarding discipline and grievance procedures. "

We view this decision as a win for our members on wages, benefits and pension issues," local president Rafael Cabrera said in a statement.

 

 

A federal judge in San Francisco said Monday he hopes to rule quickly -- possibly within 24 hours -- on a bid by sponsors of Proposition 8 to have him nullify another judge's decision overturning the ban on same-sex marriage.

"I understand this is an important case," U.S. District Judge James Ware told attorneys after hearing two hours of arguments on the issue. "It is my intent to give you a written decision quickly ... so that you can move beyond this and go back to other matters," Ware said.

The sponsors of the voter initiative claim the original judge, now-retired U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker, had a conflict of interest because he has had a 10-year relationship with another man and might want to get married.

Charles Cooper, a lawyer for the Proposition 8 sponsors, argued that Walker had an obligation to disclose his relationship and to say whether he wanted to marry.

"That is a fact clearly relevant," Cooper argued. Walker ruled last year that Proposition 8 violates the U.S. Constitution.

That ruling is now on appeal, but Proposition 8 supporters have meanwhile claimed that Walker should have been disqualified from hearing the case.

After retiring, Walker disclosed this spring that he has a longtime gay partner, but has never commented on whether he wants to marry. Ware noted that there is no direct evidence that Walker was interested in getting married.

Theodore Boutrous, a lawyer for two couples who sued to block Proposition 8, argued that Walker is really being challenged simply because he is gay and said it is unfair to question his integrity.

The motion is "frivolous, deeply offensive and unfortunate," Boutrous told the judge.

"We assume that all federal judges will decide cases based on the law no matter what their background," Boutrous said.

 

Class Action Lawsuit Filed Against OPD, Alameda Sherrif

A class action lawsuit filed Monday alleges that the Oakland Police Department and the Alameda County Sheriff's Office violated the rights of 150 people who were arrested after former BART police officer Johannes Mehserle was sentenced last Nov. 5.

The suit, filed in federal court in Oakland, claims that Oakland police unconstitutionally and unlawfully arrested the protesters without probable cause and sheriff's deputies caused them pain, discomfort, embarrassment and humiliation by holding them for up to 24 hours with little access to restrooms or food.

The lawsuit, filed by attorneys affiliated with the National Lawyers Guild, also alleges that deputies forced some of those arrested to provide DNA samples even though the arrests were only based on the allegation of participating in an unlawful assembly, which is a non-violent misdemeanor.

The suit seeks unspecified monetary damages for the protesters who were arrested as well as an injunction that would force the Oakland Police Department to comply with its crowd control policies.

The lawsuit was filed only hours after Mesherle, 29, was released from the Los Angeles County Men's Central Jail at about 12:30 a.m. Monday.

Mehserle shot and killed Oscar Grant, a 22-year-old Hayward man who was unarmed, after Mehserle and other officers responded to reports that there was a fight on a train.

Mehserle admitted in a highly-publicized trial last year that he shot and killed Grant but claimed he had meant to use his stun gun on Grant and fired his service gun by mistake.

Alameda County prosecutors sought to have Mehserle convicted of murder, but in a verdict on July 8 jurors only convicted him of the lesser charge of involuntary manslaughter.

On Nov. 5, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Robert Perry sentenced Mehserle to two years. Mehserle was released from custody Monday because he was given credit for time he served in jail before and after his conviction.

A rally was held in downtown Oakland that evening, after which some demonstrators marched toward the Fruitvale BART station.

 

Sonoma County Supes Will Restore $6M to Budget

Sonoma County's Board of Supervisors indicated Monday afternoon they will restore nearly $6 million to the 2011-12 budget, including money for the sheriff's office's Henry-1 helicopter.

The five-member board took several straw votes to restore funding during Monday's first day of budget hearings.

The hearings will continue today and official votes on any funding restorations are expected Wednesday.

The board reviewed the budgets of the Health and Human Services departments, and justice services that include the district attorney's, public defender's and sheriff's offices and the probation department.

The county is trying to cut $42.8 million from the general fund budget, reducing it to $379.3 million.

The total 2011-12 county budget is $1.2 billion.

The justice services' budgets were targeted for $21.7 million in cuts and Health and Human services for $7 million in reductions. Justice services comprise 51 percent of the general fund budget.

Sonoma County Sheriff Steve Freitas, whose office faces a $12.4 million cut and loss of 56 positions, said it would cost $350,000 just to mothball Henry-1, maintain it for possible sale and to lease the hanger at the Charles M. Schulz-Sonoma County Airport through the end of the year.

The helicopter's budget has already been cut by $900,000, Freitas said. Restoring $900,000 and increasing total funding to $1.2 million with the use of one-time funds would reduce its 24/7 service to a 40-hour week.

The helicopter would also be on call after hours but off duty two days a week, Freitas said.

The helicopter performs searches, rescues, law enforcement duties and has fire-fighting capabilities.

Board members said the sheriff's office should consider recouping some of its helicopter expenses by requesting donations for searches and rescues and by charging out-of-county residents who are rescued in Sonoma County.

Among the sheriff's office's programs that might be spared cuts are funding for Henry-1, for retaining three employees in a domestic violence and sexual assault unit and a violent crimes and property crimes unit, and for partial funding of a gang crimes unit.

Those restorations total $1.9 million.

 

San Mateo Attorneys File Motion to Dismiss Discrimination Lawsuit

Attorneys for San Mateo County Monday filed a motion to dismiss a lawsuit filed in April that alleges the county's system of holding countywide elections to vote for its Board of Supervisors discriminates against minority residents.

Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area said in its April 14 civil suit that the county's at-large rather than by-district elections dilute the voting power of Latino and Asian communities, which combined make up nearly 50 percent the county's population.

"The motivation for bringing the suit is that there is a voting system in place that dilutes Latin and Asian voting power," Lawyer's Committee director of litigation Robert Rubin said.

The lawsuit claims that the diminished ability of some minority residents to elect representatives to the Board of Supervisors is a violation of the California Voting Rights Act, Rubin said. Joe Cotchett, an attorney representing the county, said that San Mateo is a charter county, and as such is entitled by the California Constitution to choose its own system of electing supervisors.

The state's 12 charter counties have the option to conduct supervisorial elections by district or in at-large elections.

"We are a charter county and under the Constitution we are allowed to do that," Cotchett said. "Our system is constitutionally correct." Monday's motion to dismiss the case was based on that constitutional right, Cotchett said.

Of the state's 58 counties, San Mateo County is the only one that elects its supervisors with at-large elections.

The option to switch to district elections has been put before voters on three occasions -- most recently in 1980 -- and each time has failed to pass, Cotchett said.

The preservation of at-large elections is in the best interest of the people of San Mateo County, Board of Supervisors president Carol Groom said in a statement.

"At-large voting honors the principle that public officials are accountable to the entire community," Groom said. Rubin disagreed. "I think that the folks in the Asian and Latino communities feel otherwise," he said.

 

Prosecutors Will Not Seek Death Penalty for German Tourist Shooting

Prosecutors said Monday they will not seek the death penalty against six people charged in connection with the fatal shooting of a German tourist near San Francisco's Union Square last year.

A total of seven suspects were arrested last month and an eighth is still being sought in connection with the death of Mechthild Schroer, a 50-year-old woman from Minden, Germany, on Aug. 8, 2010, in the 400 block of Mason Street.

Phillip Stewart, 19, Marcus Blueford, 19, Delvon Scott, 20, Willie Eason, 19, and Raheem Jackson, 17, were charged with murder, while Gethsamine Pita, 18, and a juvenile were charged with being an accessory to murder, prosecutors said.

The suspects were set to be arraigned and enter pleas in San Francisco Superior Court Monday, but the hearing was continued to July 19.

But at Monday's hearing, Assistant District Attorney Eric Fleming told Judge Jeffrey Ross that prosecutors decided not to seek the death penalty in the case after taking into account the defendants' ages and prior criminal histories.

Schroer, who was visiting the U.S. with her husband Stefan, was apparently caught in the crossfire of a shootout between two groups of people outside a private party, police said.

The couple had been staying at a nearby hotel.

Two teens, a 15-year-old boy and 19-year-old woman, were also hit by the gunfire but survived. None of the three victims were the intended targets, according to police.

The chaotic shooting generated extensive evidence-gathering -- Fleming said at Monday's hearing that there was enough documentation to fill 80 compact discs worth of memory for each suspect.

All seven suspects were also charged with the commission of a crime in association with a criminal street gang, but police have said that all seven are not members of the same gang.

They are all being held on bail amounts ranging from $1 million to $7 million.

 

Judge Suspends Trial Against Fisherman's Wharf Worker

A judge in San Francisco Monday suspended criminal proceedings against a Fisherman's Wharf souvenir shop worker accused in the January killings of two employees at a neighboring business in order to allow a psychologist to assess the defendant's mental competency.

Hong Ri Wu, 56, is suspected of shooting Feng Ping Ou, a 30-year-old woman, and Qiong Han Chu, a 30-year-old man, at about 8:20 p.m. on Jan. 30 inside the souvenir and luggage shop where they worked at 269 Jefferson St., police said.

Wu, a San Francisco resident, pleaded not guilty in February to two counts of murder, with special allegations of firearm use and multiple murders.

Earlier this month, Wu's attorney, Deputy Public Defender Kleigh Hathaway, said in San Francisco Superior Court that she had doubts about Wu's ability to participate in his own defense.

At a mental competency hearing Monday morning, Hathaway said her doubts stem from her conversations with Wu, who was not in court Monday.

Hathaway said her client does not appear to understand the nature of the charges against him or seem capable of assisting in his own defense.

Judge Garrett Wong decided to suspend the criminal proceedings after appointing a forensic psychologist, Dr. Amy Watt, to look into whether Wu is competent to stand trial.

Wu is scheduled to return to court on July 13, when Wong will consider the doctor's report on his competency.

Wu is accused of walking into the victims' store and shooting them. He worked at a nearby competing store and knew Chu and Ou, police said.

The victims, both San Francisco residents, died inside the store.

A gun believed to be the murder weapon was recovered at the scene. Investigators believe the shooting stemmed from a rivalry between the two stores, which sold similar items.

 

Berkeley Police Suspect Arson in Berkeley Hill Fires

Berkeley police believe that two fires that broke out simultaneously at homes a block away from each other in the Berkeley hills early Wednesday morning are suspicious and likely were caused by arson, a police spokeswoman said Monday.

However, Sgt. Mary Kusmiss said the blazes are still under investigation and that there was no definitive proof of arson at this time, as it may take several weeks to complete lab work to analyze the materials found at the two homes.

Kusmiss said the reason that police believe the fires were caused by arson is there is no evidence that they were caused by spontaneous combustion or some other type of accident.

Another factor is that the blazes occurred in the middle of the night, when arsonists are less likely to be seen or caught, she said.

Police are concerned about the fires because blazes that occur when people are asleep can be "very deadly," Kusmiss said.

Berkeley Fire Chief Debra Pryor said last week that her department sent three engines and a ladder truck to respond to a report that a car was burning in the driveway of a home at 548 Cragmont Ave. at 12:43 a.m.

Wednesday. As the ladder truck approached the blaze, its crew noticed a second blaze at 494 Cragmont Ave. and diverted to that house, she said. At 548 Cragmont Ave., the car fire transferred to an outside building -- a combination of a garage and storage area -- but did not transfer to the house, Pryor said.

The fire was soon brought under control, and no one was injured, she said. Pryor said the fire at 494 Cragmont Ave. was small and was confined to an area outside the house and firefighters were able to put it out quickly with fire extinguishers and a garden hose.

No one was injured in that blaze either, she said.

 

San Rafael Firefighters Put Out Two Arson Fires

San Rafael firefighters extinguished two suspected arson fires Monday afternoon, Fire Chief Chris Gray said.

Witnesses saw a person, possibly a woman, in the area of both brush fires, Gray said.

A 500-square-foot fire started around 1 p.m. near a homeless encampment behind the Falkirk Cultural Center at 1408 Mission Ave., Gray said. The blaze was quickly extinguished, Gray said.

The second fire at 2:10 p.m. burned about an acre a few hundred yards away, Gray said. Thirty firefighters extinguished that fire in about 45 minutes, Gray said.

The fires are a reminder that heavy vegetation from the rainy spring and winter is now drying out and is combustible, Gray said.

Eight engines responded to the fires.

No injuries were reported, Gray said.

San Rafael police are also investigating the suspected arsons.

 

Santa Clara Man Arrested for Murder of Maria Orozco

Police have arrested a Santa Clara man in connection with the murder of Maria Orozco, whose body was found earlier this month in a garbage bag in Sunnyvale.

Feliciano Valencia-Santiago, 47, was arrested at about 7:50 p.m.

Friday as he was riding a bicycle in the area of El Camino Real and Halford Avenue in Santa Clara.

Detectives tracked him down after receiving numerous leads. Orozco's body was found on June 5 in a large, loosely cinched garbage bag near some bushes in the 800 block of Ticonderoga Drive, according to the Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety.

Detectives believe Orozco, a 46-year-old San Jose resident, was murdered in a house in the 800 block of Revere Drive in Sunnyvale, less than a mile from where her body was found.

The house has been vacant since a fire broke out there in December, police said.

The Santa Clara County medical examiner's office determined that the cause of Orozco's death was trauma to the head.

Valencia-Santiago was booked into Santa Clara County Jail on a homicide charge.

The California Department of Justice assisted in the investigation.

Anyone with information about the case is asked to call the Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety at (408) 730-7110. Those who wish to remain anonymous can provide information by sending an email to SVTIP@tipnow.org.

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Early Morning Fire Leaves One Displaced

One person was displaced by a two-alarm fire near San Francisco's Alamo Square this morning, a fire dispatcher said. 

The blaze was reported at 1127 Elm St. at 12:58 a.m. and firefighters had the fire under control by 1:37 a.m., the dispatcher said.

No one was injured and the American Red Cross was contacted to assist the displaced resident with temporary housing.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

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Supes to Vote Today on Whether To Appoint New Police Commissioner

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors is scheduled to vote today on whether to appoint a former federal prosecutor as the newest member of the city's Police Commission

L. Julius Turman was nominated by the board's rules committee to succeed Jim Hammer on the commission.

The appointment would be for a four-year term ending at the end of April 2015. Turman, a former Assistant U.S. Attorney, has also served as a commissioner on the San Francisco Human Rights Commission.

He was nominated in a 2-1 vote on June 2 by the board's rules committee, with Supervisor Jane Kim dissenting.

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Prosecutors Won't Seek Death Penalty In German Tourist Murder Case

Prosecutors said today they will not seek the death penalty against six people charged in connection with the fatal shooting of a German tourist near San Francisco's Union Square last year.

A total of seven suspects were arrested last month and an eighth is still being sought in connection with the death of Mechthild Schroer, a 50-year-old woman from Minden, Germany, on Aug. 8, 2010, in the 400 block of Mason Street.

Phillip Stewart, 19, Marcus Blueford, 19, Delvon Scott, 20, Willie Eason, 19, and Raheem Jackson, 17, were charged with murder, while Gethsamine Pita, 18, and a juvenile were charged with being an accessory to murder, prosecutors said.

The suspects were set to be arraigned and enter pleas in San Francisco Superior Court today, but the hearing was continued to July 19.

But at today's hearing, Assistant District Attorney Eric Fleming told Judge Jeffrey Ross that prosecutors decided not to seek the death penalty in the case after taking into account the defendants' ages and prior criminal histories.

Schroer, who was visiting the U.S. with her husband Stefan, was apparently caught in the crossfire of a shootout between two groups of people outside a private party, police said.

The couple had been staying at a nearby hotel. Two teens, a 15-year-old boy and 19-year-old woman, were also hit by the gunfire but survived.

None of the three victims were the intended targets, according to police.

The chaotic shooting generated extensive evidence-gathering -- Fleming said at today's hearing that there was enough documentation to fill 80 compact discs worth of memory for each suspect.

All seven suspects were also charged with the commission of a crime in association with a criminal street gang, but police have said that all seven are not members of the same gang.

They are all being held on bail amounts ranging from $1 million to $7 million.

 

 

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Man Hit In Head With Hammer During Home Invasion Robbery

A man was hospitalized after being hit in the head several times with a hammer during a home invasion robbery in San Francisco's Jordan Park neighborhood early this morning, police said.

The robbery was reported at about 1 a.m. in the 3400 block of Geary Boulevard.

Two suspects broke down the front door of the home and began to take items.

One of the suspects encountered the 45-year-old victim and demanded money from him, according to police.

The victim began to struggle with the intruders and was hit in the head and knees several times with a hammer, police said.

The suspects, a white man in his 30s and a black man in his late 40s, took three computers and a phone before fleeing.

They had not been found as of this morning, according to police.

The victim was taken to San Francisco General Hospital to be treated for his injuries and was in stable condition this morning, police said.

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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Police Investigating Suspicious Fire At Downtown Wells Fargo Bank

Police are investigating a suspicious fire that burned at a Wells Fargo bank in San Francisco's Financial District early this morning.

The fire was reported at about 1 a.m. at the bank, located at 464 California St.

 A window on the front of the building was broken and newspapers were set ablaze inside underneath the windowsill, according to police.

The blaze is considered suspicious but no suspect information wasimmediately available this morning, police said.

Anyone with information about the fire 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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Murder Case Against Fisherman's Wharf Merchant Suspended As Competency Is Questioned

A judge in San Francisco today suspended criminal proceedings against a Fisherman's Wharf souvenir shop worker accused in the January killings of two employees at a neighboring business in order to allow a psychologist to assess the defendant's mental competency.

Hong Ri Wu, 56, is suspected of shooting Feng Ping Ou, a 30-year-old woman, and Qiong Han Chu, a 30-year-old man, at about 8:20 p.m. on Jan. 30 inside the souvenir and luggage shop where they worked at 269 Jefferson St., police said.

Wu, a San Francisco resident, pleaded not guilty in February to two counts of murder, with special allegations of firearm use and multiple murders.

Earlier this month, Wu's attorney, Deputy Public Defender Kleigh Hathaway, said in San Francisco Superior Court that she had doubts about Wu's ability to participate in his own defense.

At a mental competency hearing this morning, Hathaway said her doubts stem from her conversations with Wu, who was not in court today.

Hathaway said her client does not appear to understand the nature of the charges against him or seem capable of assisting in his own defense.

Judge Garrett Wong decided to suspend the criminal proceedings after appointing a forensic psychologist, Dr. Amy Watt, to look into whether Wu is competent to stand trial.

Wu is scheduled to return to court on July 13, when Wong will consider the doctor's report on his competency.

Wu is accused of walking into the victims' store and shooting them.

He worked at a nearby competing store and knew Chu and Ou, police said.

The victims, both San Francisco residents, died inside the store. A gun believed to be the murder weapon was recovered at the scene.

Investigators believe the shooting stemmed from a rivalry between the two stores, which sold similar items.

 

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U.S. Judge Says He Will Rule Quickly On Bid to Nullify Prop 8 Decision

A federal judge in San Francisco said today he hopes to rule quickly -- possibly within 24 hours -- on a bid by sponsors of Proposition 8 to have him nullify another judge's decision overturning the ban on same-sex marriage.

"I understand this is an important case," U.S. District Judge James Ware told attorneys after hearing two hours of arguments on the issue. "It is my intent to give you a written decision quickly ... so that you can move beyond this and go back to other matters," Ware said.

The sponsors of the voter initiative claim the original judge, now-retired U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker, had a conflict of interest because he has had a 10-year relationship with another man and might want to get married.

Charles Cooper, a lawyer for the Proposition 8 sponsors, argued that Walker had an obligation to disclose his relationship and to say whether he wanted to marry.

"That is a fact clearly relevant," Cooper argued. Walker ruled last year that Proposition 8 violates the U.S. Constitution. That ruling is now on appeal, but Proposition 8 supporters have meanwhile claimed that Walker should have been disqualified from hearing the case.

After retiring, Walker disclosed this spring that he has a longtime gay partner, but has never commented on whether he wants to marry. Ware noted that there is no direct evidence that Walker was interested in getting married.

Theodore Boutrous, a lawyer for two couples who sued to block Proposition 8, argued that Walker is really being challenged simply because he is gay and said it is unfair to question his integrity.

The motion is "frivolous, deeply offensive and unfortunate," Boutrous told the judge. "We assume that all federal judges will decide cases based on the law no matter what their background," Boutrous said.

Ware questioned the attorneys about a federal rule that requires disqualification of a judge if a reasonable person would reasonably question a judge's impartiality.

"Does the standard allow bias and prejudice to play a part? Can you be reasonable and biased?" he asked.

Both attorneys answered that bigotry should not be part of the definition of a reasonable person.

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San Francisco Bay Area Monday News Roundup

Mehserle Released From LA County Jail

Former BART police Officer Johannes Mehserle was released from the Los Angeles County Men's Central Jail at about 12:30 a.m. today, according to Victim Information and Notification Everyday, the national victim notification network.

Mehserle was convicted of killing 22-year-old Oscar Grant III on New Year's Day 2009 on the Fruitvale BART station platform.

On Nov. 5, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Robert Perry sentenced Mehserle to two years for involuntary manslaughter, but his prison term was shortened.

 

Community Protesets Mehserle's Release at Fruitvale BART

Hundreds of protesters gathered at the Fruitvale BART station Sunday afternoon in Oakland, shortly before an ex-BART police officer was set to be released from a Los Angeles jail for the killing of a Hayward man in early 2009.

Several hundred people began protesting at the Fruitvale Village station plaza, near the site of the shooting of Oscar Grant, 22.

Former BART police Officer Johannes Mehserle was convicted of killing Grant on New Year's Day 2009 on a station platform.

After the 3 p.m. rally at the BART station, protesters began marching down International Boulevard to arrive at a larger 5:30 p.m. rally at 14th Street and Broadway in downtown Oakland.

The Coalition for Justice for Oscar Grant organized the rally and march, working with the justice group ONYX. 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.

Last year, jurors convicted Mehserle of involuntary manslaughter.

On Nov. 5, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Robert Perry sentenced Mehserle to two years, but his prison term was shortened and he is expected to be released today from Los Angeles County Men's Central Jail, according to Grant's family. Support, justice and peace were the main message of the rally and the crowd remained calm despite high emotions with Mehserle's pending release.

"It's been mellow," Oakland police Officer J. Moore said about the protest and rally. No arrests or acts of vandalism have been reported, he said.

News of Mehserle's release sparked emotion for many family members and supporters of Grant, who voiced their opinions at the rally and march.

Grant's uncle, Daryl Johnson, told the crowd the public's support is crucial.

"We need you now, we need you later -- until the justice system is fixed, he said.

 

Prop 8 Sponsors Ask New Judge to Nullify Decision on Same-Sex Marriage

Sponsors of Proposition 8 will be back in federal court in San Francisco today, asking a new trial judge to nullify a previous judge's decision to overturn California's ban on same-sex marriage.

The sponsors of the voter initiative claim the original judge, now-retired U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker, had a conflict of interest because he has a long-term gay partner and might want to marry.

They are asking the new judge assigned to the case, Chief U.S. District Judge James Ware, to vacate, or nullify, a decision in which Walker ruled last year that Proposition 8 violated the U.S. Constitution. Ware took over the case after Walker retired in February.

The bid by the initiative sponsors and their committee, Protect Marriage, is separate from a slow-moving proceeding in which they are also seeking to appeal Walker's decision to a federal appeals court.

That appeal is now pending before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. But that panel has sent the case on a detour to the California Supreme Court to decide whether the sponsors have the right to appeal in view of the fact that the official defendants -- Gov. Jerry Brown and Attorney General Kamala Harris -- have refused to do so.

The state high court is expected to hold a hearing on that issue in September and rule by the end of the year, after which the case will return to the 9th Circuit.

The circuit court has stayed Walker's decision during the appeal, leaving Proposition 8 in effect for the time being.

Meanwhile, however, the Proposition 8 sponsors say the appeal might be unnecessary if the courts grant their bid to set aside Walker's decision.

 

Police Investigate 3 Shootings in East San Jose

Police are investigating three shootings that occurred in east San Jose in the area of Marten Avenue early Sunday morning.

The first incident was around 2:30 a.m. when man and a juvenile boy were shot while walking, according to police.

They walked to a nearby house in the 3500 block of Eastridge Drive, where they called 911 to report the incident.

Police were notified around 1:10 p.m.

Sunday that a third victim, a boy, had sought treatment at a local hospital for gunshot wounds.

He was shot during the same incident, according to the Police Department.

None of the victims has injuries that are considered to be life threatening. No arrests have been made.

The motive and circumstances of the shooting remain under investigation.

 

Family of Missing Nursing Student, Michelle Le, Continue Search

The family of a nursing student who has been missing since May is continuing to work for her safe return.

The friends and family of Michelle Le, 26, who went missing May 27 from Kaiser Permanente Hayward Medical Center, gathered Sunday to distribute fliers with supporters.

About 15 people, including Marc Klaas of KlassKids Foundation, met at 2 p.m. at 26231 Mission Blvd. in Hayward to distribute the fliers, Le family spokeswoman Krystine Dinh said in a prepared statement.

Attendees were given specific neighborhoods to target in Hayward. The family says they are planning another organized flier distribution event Saturday.

"As Michelle's case progresses without further evidence of homicide, her loved ones continue to put for the efforts to find her alive," Dinh said in a prepared statement.

"We appreciate the efforts of the community, the press and the Hayward Police Department to get her home safely."

Le told classmates she was headed to Reno after her rotation at the hospital in late May.

Le left during a break and never returned.

On Friday, search dogs and forensic investigators unsuccessfully searched a rural area of southeastern Alameda County for Le's body. Le's friends and family members hosted a vigil Thursday night at a Hayward park with the hope that she is still alive.

The vigil was in response to the Hayward Police Department's reclassification of Le's disappearance to a homicide, organizers said. Investigators said they discovered compelling evidence that points to homicide.

 

Newsom and Siebel Give Birth to Baby Boy

Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and his wife Jennifer Siebel gave birth to a baby boy in San Francisco on Sunday, a spokesman announced.

Hunter Siebel Newsom was born at 9:18 a.m., spokesman Francisco Castillo said in an email.

Hunter was 20.5 inches long and weighed 8 pounds 4 ounces at birth.

The Newsom's have a daughter, Montana, who is 20 months old.

 

Man Trapped in Car Rescued

A man who was trapped inside a car was rescued and taken to the hospital with major injuries after a rollover crash on northbound state Highway 85 in San Jose, according to the California Highway Patrol.

A silver sedan and a BMW Mini Cooper were involved in the crash that happened just north of state Highway 87 at about 2:40 a.m., CHP Officer Scott Cakebread said.

The No. 2 northbound lane is still blocked and the CHP is working to reopen the lane and clear debris from the highway, he said.

 

West Oakland Shooting Victim Stable

One man is in stable condition after a shooting in West Oakland on Saturday night, police said.

The man was shot in the 1000 block of Eighth Street at about 10:10 p.m., Oakland police Officer J. Moore said.

There are no suspects in custody, he said.

 

Man Wounded in Jordan Heights Shooting

A 46-year-old man was wounded early Sunday morning in a shooting in San Francisco's Jordan Heights neighborhood, police said.

Officers responded to a report of shots fired in the 3500 block of Geary Avenue near Jordan Avenue at about 2:15 a.m., San Francisco police Lt. Troy Dangerfield said.

The victim, who had been shot twice in the torso, was taken to a hospital and is expected to survive, Dangerfield said. Two suspects in a silver car were later detained and arrested for the shooting.

The incident remains under investigation.

 

Man Injured After Hitting Deer on Motorcycle

A 51-year-old Santa Rosa man was seriously injured Saturday night when he was thrown off a motorcycle after hitting a deer in unincorporated Sonoma County.

Timothy Saala was riding a 2009 Harley Davidson in the right lane on southbound U.S. Highway 101 when he struck a deer north of Geyserville at about 9:50 p.m., according to the California Highway Patrol.

Saala, who was wearing a helmet, was taken to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital to be treated for major injuries.

Alcohol was not believed to be a factor in the crash, according to the CHP.

 

Nx Judag Express Bus Begins Service to Ease Overcrowing on Muni

An express bus is going to start running today to help ease overcrowding on Muni's busiest rail line.

With a daily ridership of nearly 40,000, the N Judah carries almost 30 percent of all of Muni's rail customers, according to the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, which oversees Muni.

The weekday, peak-hour Nx Judah Express bus service that is starting today will operate in addition to existing N Judah rail service, which will not be affected.

The pilot program will use buses traveling between the Financial District and Ocean Beach to alleviate overcrowding and improve reliability on the N Judah Line during the morning and afternoon commutes.

Nx Judah Express will operate between 48th and 19th avenues and travel express between 19th Avenue and the Financial District.

For more information on the Nx Judah Express Bus Pilot Project, visit www.sfmta.com or call 311.

 

Elderly Oakland Woman Recovering After Being Lost in Park

An elderly Oakland woman was recovering Sunday after being lost for several hours in an East Bay park Saturday night, a spokesman said.

Alice Weller, 88, and her husband George were hiking in Sibley Volcanic Regional Preserve near Oakland when the two were separated on a trail at about 5 p.m., East Bay Regional Park District police Lt. John King said. George called 911 to report his wife missing at about 5:10 p.m.

A team of about 45 police officers, firefighters and volunteers responded to the emergency, and the missing woman was found in a northeastern section of the park at about 9:50 p.m., King said.

Alice, who was dehydrated and suffering from exposure, was carried out of the park by the search-and-rescue team, King said. She was taken to a hospital for observation at about 10:50 p.m.

 

 

The Alameda County Fire Department is advising residents in the Dublin area not to be alarmed today and Tuesday if they see smoke or fire. The department is conducting a controlled vegetation management and training burn at the Alameda County Sheriff's Regional Training Center, located at 1289 Madigan Road. The burn will be between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m. and will take place between the county jail and Barner Avenue. The burn will increase the defensible space for residents in the area of the Sheriff's Regional Training Center.

 

Police Find Narcosts, Handguns, Cash at Cocain Dealers Houses

A man suspected of selling cocaine was arrested after detectives discovered narcotics, handguns, and more than $12,000 at two Vallejo homes, according to the Solano County Sheriff's Office.

Earnest Washington III, 36, was detained after the sheriff's office issued a search warrant to a home in the 1000 block of Topsail Drive at about 7:10 a.m. Thursday, authorities said.

Investigators allegedly found 2 pounds of rock cocaine, two pistols, and $12,600 at the home.

At about 7:45 a.m., detectives served a second search warrant at a house in the 200 block of Cypress Avenue, where they found about one-quarter gram of rock cocaine, 1 ounce of marijuana, and packaging material commonly used in the sale of illegal drugs, the sheriff's office said. Detectives also found paperwork that allegedly links Washington to both homes, according to the sheriff's office.

Sheriff's deputies arrested Washington on suspicion of cocaine sales, being armed during the commission of a felony, committing a felony while out on bail, and maintaining a residence used to sell drugs.

Washington was booked into the Solano County jail and his bail was set at $250,000.

 

Vacaville Police Arrest Counterfeit Merchants

Vacaville police have arrested three men for allegedly trying to sell counterfeit merchandise in a parking lot.

Someone reported that females were being approached in the parking lot at 777 E. Monte Vista Ave. about buying fine jewelry that was actually costume jewelry.

The suspects didn't have permits to solicit in the city, police said. Officers recovered 26 rings, 10 bracelets, two watches, 27 gold chains and two silver chains.

The Macy's tags on some of the recovered merchandise totaled about $58,690. 

The suspects, men from Antioch, Sacramento and Rodeo, were arrested Friday and booked into Solano County jail, police said Sunday.

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Construction, Street Closures Begin At West Portal 15th Avenues

Underground drainage work begins today at West Portal and 15th avenues, and construction is expected to last for about two weeks, according to the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency.

Westbound West Portal Avenue from 15th Avenue to Sloat Boulevard will be closed from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. during construction days, SFMTA officials said.

Traffic through West Portal Avenue will detour south on 15th Avenue to Portola Drive and back to Sloat Boulevard.

Local access for businesses and residents on West Portal Avenue will be maintained, officials said. No Muni routes or lines will be affected by the work.

During construction, flaggers will be on site to monitor and assist the traffic flow.

The construction is the final piece of work needed to resolve a drainage issue that arose at West Portal and 15th avenues.

The issue was related to the Muni light rail vehicle track installed during last summer's St. Francis Circle Rail Replacement Project, according to the SFMTA.

For more information about the Saint Francis Rail Replacement Project, please visit www.sfmta.com/stfranciscircle or call 311.

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Prop 8 Sponsors Ask New Trial Judge to Nullify Walker's Ruling

PROP 8 HEARING 

Sponsors of Proposition 8 will be back in federal court in San Francisco Monday, asking a new trial judge to nullify a previous judge's decision to overturn California's ban on same-sex marriage.

The sponsors of the voter initiative claim the original judge, now-retired U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker, had a conflict of interest because he has a long-term gay partner and might want to marry.

They are asking the new judge assigned to the case, Chief U.S. District Judge James Ware, to vacate, or nullify, a decision in which Walker ruled last year that Proposition 8 violated the U.S. Constitution.

Ware took over the case after Walker retired in February.

The bid by the initiative sponsors and their committee, Protect Marriage, is separate from a slow-moving proceeding in which they are also seeking to appeal Walker's decision to a federal appeals court.

That appeal is now pending before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. But that panel has sent the case on a detour to the California Supreme Court to decide whether the sponsors have the right to appeal in view of the fact that the official defendants -- Gov. Jerry Brown and Attorney General Kamala Harris -- have refused to do so.

The state high court is expected to hold a hearing on that issue in September and rule by the end of the year, after which the case will return to the 9th Circuit.

The circuit court has stayed Walker's decision during the appeal, leaving Proposition 8 in effect for the time being.

Meanwhile, however, the Proposition 8 sponsors say the appeal might be unnecessary if the courts grant their bid to set aside Walker's decision.

"We deeply regret the necessity of this motion," the sponsors said in papers filed with Ware this spring.

But they said that if Walker ever wants to marry, he "would likely directly and substantially benefit from his own ruling" and thus "his impartiality could reasonably be questioned."

While presiding over the case, Walker did not publicly disclose he is gay but did not deny published reports.

Then, in a post-retirement meeting with a group of legal reporters in April, Walker said he had a 10-year relationship with a male doctor.

He said he did not think his sexual orientation was relevant to his job as a judge and that he saw no need to disqualify himself from the case.

He did not say whether he wanted to marry.

Lawyers for two same-sex couples who challenged Proposition 8 contend the motion is frivolous and at odds with a long line of federal court rulings saying that minority group members and women are not required to disqualify themselves from civil rights cases.

The motion is "an utterly baseless attack on the integrity of the judicial system," the attorneys wrote in a response filed last month.

"In fact, proponents' argument is nothing more than a thinly veiled attempt to disqualify a gay judge based on his sexual orientation," they wrote.

Theodore Olson, a former U.S. solicitor general who represents the two couples, said at a telephone press conference Friday that disqualifying Walker "would set a dangerous precedent."

"Every person alive has some background or experience that could conceivably arguably affect their attitude in a case," Olson said. T

he plaintiffs' lawyers argue that under the Proposition 8 sponsors' reasoning, heterosexual judges should also not be allowed to rule on the case because one argument of the sponsors is that same-sex weddings would damage the institution of heterosexual marriage.

The Proposition 8 sponsors contend they are not seeking to disqualify Walker because he is gay, but only because his long-term relationship suggests he might have a "direct personal interest" in same-sex marriage.

Ware's ruling on the motion -- which he could issue either from the bench on Monday or in a later written decision -- could be appealed to the 9th Circuit and to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Proposition 8, enacted by California voters as a state constitutional amendment in November 2008, provides that "only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California."

Walker ruled in August that the measure violated the federal constitutional guarantees of equal treatment and due process.

CONTACT: American Foundation for Equal Rights (213) 785-5368 Protect Marriage spokeswoman Carla Hass (916) 834-9966

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46-Year-Old Man Survives Early Morning Shooting, 2 Suspects Arrested

A 46-year-old man was wounded early this morning in a shooting in San Francisco's Jordan Heights neighborhood, police said.

Officers responded to a report of shots fired in the 3500 block of Geary Avenue near Jordan Avenue at about 2:15 a.m., San Francisco police Lt. Troy Dangerfield said.

The victim, who had been shot twice in the torso, was taken to a hospital and is expected to survive, Dangerfield said.

Two suspects in a silver car were later detained and arrested for the shooting.

The incident remains under investigation.

CONTACT: SFPD (415) 553-1396

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Cal Fire Preparing for Fire Season, Asking Home Owners to Take Precautions

As temperatures start to rise for summer, Cal Fire will be increasing its staff in Northern California to prepare for fire season, fire officials said.

Starting Monday, Cal Fire will be transitioning into fire season in counties throughout Northern California, including Alameda, Contra Costa, and Santa Clara counties.

Recent above-average rainfall has led to a lower fire risk this past month, fire officials said, but it also led to an abundance of grass and brush. Rising temperatures could dry out the foliage, leading to a higher risk of wildfires.

Seasonal fire stations will soon be staffed around the clock in preparation for the season, according to Cal Fire.

Fire officials are asking homeowners to take extra precautions to prepare for the season by maintaining a defensible space of 100 feet around the home, trimming branches six feet from the ground, clearing needles from gutters, roofs, and eaves.

Fire officials also recommend landscaping with fire resistant plants and using fire resistant building materials on the home.

CONTACT: Daniel Berlant, Cal Fire Information Officer (916) 651-3473

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San Francisco Bay Area Saturday Morning News Round Up

At St. Mary's Cathedral in San Francisco, where thousands of public safety officers gathered to honor two firefighters fatally injured in a blaze last week, men and women in their dress blues lined the back of an over-flow room where all the seats were full.

About halfway through the 3.5-hour service Friday, two firefighters stood up and offered their seats to men who had been standing for a long time. The firefighters had to imply they were leaving the room to convince their colleagues to sit down.

It was the kind of cooperation and selflessness that seemed to run like a thread through the funeral of fire Lt. Vincent Perez, 48, and firefighter-paramedic Anthony "Tony" Valerio, 53, of Station 36, who were burned while fighting a fire in the Diamond Heights neighborhood June 2.

Perez died shortly after the fire, and Valerio succumbed to his injuries two days later.

Police and firefighters from across the country and beyond gathered to remember the men -- one talkative and one taciturn, but both choosing daily to put their lives on the line to help others.

"On the outside they seemed pretty different," fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White said during the service. "But both shared an unwavering tenacity and unwillingness to give up on what they believed in."
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San Jose police have arrested a man who allegedly stabbed another man to death during a Cinco de Mayo celebration.

Demetrius Campbell, a 20-year-old San Jose resident, was stabbed around 11:30 p.m. May 4 in the 2000 block of Flintcrest Drive.

Just before the stabbing, Campbell and the suspect, Joseph Rick Beltran, were involved in a verbal altercation at a Cinco de Mayo barbecue, according to detectives.

Campbell was taken to Regional Medical Center of San Jose, where he was pronounced dead at 12:01 a.m. His death marked the city's 16th homicide of 2011.

Beltran, 19, was arrested at his home, located in the 1200 block of Farringdon Drive on Wednesday.

He remains in custody at the Santa Clara County jail.
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A man was struck and killed by a car as he tried to cross Saragota Avenue in San Jose this afternoon.

Police received the call at about 2 p.m.

The man was struck by a 2006 Scion as he attempted to cross the southbound lanes of Saratoga Avenue south of Graves Avenue. He was taken to Valley Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.

The driver of the Scion was a 26-year-old Campbell woman, according to police. She cooperated with investigators.

The cause of the crash remains under investigation. Drugs and alcohol do not appear to be factors.

The identity of the victim hasn't been released.
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Search dogs and forensic investigators had no luck searching a rural area of southeastern Alameda County for the body of a nursing student who was last seen at a Hayward hospital in May, police announced tonight. 

A 35-person police team searched about 30 square miles of the Niles Canyon and Palomares Canyon areas for Michelle Le starting at around 8 a.m. Friday. The search ended at 6 p.m.

No body or other evidence was found, according to the Hayward Police Department.

Friday's search was the latest of more than a half-dozen searches during the past two weeks.

Le's friends and family members hosted a vigil Thursday night at Mount Eden Park in Hayward with the hope that she is still alive.

The vigil was in response to the Hayward Police Department's reclassification of Le's disappearance to a homicide Monday, organizers said.

Le, 26, has been missing since about 7 p.m. on May 27 from Kaiser Permanente Hayward Medical Center on Sleepy Hollow Avenue.

She told classmates she was headed to Reno after her rotation at the hospital. Le left during a break and never returned.

Investigators said they discovered compelling evidence that points to homicide.

Sgt. Steve Brown said investigators wanted to remain hopeful that Le was alive, but "based on all the evidence, we have the grim possibility that Michelle is dead and we should prepare for the worst."
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A man was found dead in a recycling bin in San Francisco's Buena Vista Park on Friday morning by firefighters responding to a brush fire nearby, and investigators are considering the death suspicious, police said.

The man, who has not been identified, was found by firefighters responding to a fire at 4:39 a.m. at the park, located near the intersection of Buena Vista Avenue East and Haight Street, a fire dispatcher said.

While extinguishing the blaze, firefighters found the partially burned body of someone who was already dead, police Lt. Troy Dangerfield said.

The body was found in a blue recycling bin, which was near tennis courts, police Sgt. Mike Andraychak said.

Homicide inspectors and the arson task force responded to investigate the incident.
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A woman who was struck and killed by a vehicle on state Highway 156 in Castroville on Thursday morning had stopped with her 12-year-old son to help people with car trouble, according to a California Highway Patrol spokesman.

The woman, 36-year-old Veronica Brumley, was driving a red Acura sport utility vehicle west on the highway shortly before 11 a.m. when she noticed a Volkswagen Jetta that had run out of gas on the left shoulder, CHP Officer Robert Lehman said.

She stopped her car on the right shoulder and a couple, who was in the disabled vehicle, walked along the shoulder of the two-lane freeway to meet Brumley behind her car, Lehman said.

Then as she was getting back inside her car, a Toyota Avalon going west on the highway struck Brumley. She was pronounced dead there.

Lehman said the woman's son was sitting in the passenger seat of her car and saw the crash.

The CHP sent a grief counselor to console the son and his stepfather, who arrived a short time later to pick him up.

The people in the disabled vehicle were also "shaken up," Lehman said.

The driver of the Toyota Avalon was an 18-year-old woman from Southern California who was on her way to the University of California at Santa Cruz campus to visit a family member, Lehman said.

She was not cited or arrested. There was no indication she was under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

The crash remains under investigation.
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A small plane crash near Livermore that killed a Belmont couple in 2010 was most likely caused by the pilot's inability to fly in low-visibility weather conditions, according to a National Transportation Safety Board report.

The crash happened shortly before 10:30 a.m. on May 9, 2010, about eight miles northeast of the Livermore Municipal Airport in a rural, hilly area off Morgan Territory Road.

Julia Huber, 75, was flying the plane, a Piper Cherokee PA-28, and her husband Oskar Huber, 77, was riding as a passenger.

The couple was returning home after visiting family members in the Auburn area.

According to the report, rain had passed through the area shortly before the plane crashed and fog limited visibility.

Julia Huber held a private pilot certificate that allowed her to fly in weather conditions clear enough to see where she was going, but the weather conditions that day appear to have required the use of navigation instruments, according to the report.

The plane was heading into hilly terrain when it appears that Julia Huber attempted to maneuver it to better weather conditions at lower elevations, but struck an area of 50-foot-tall trees and then crashed to the ground, according to the report.

The plane was seriously damaged, but investigators found no evidence of any mechanical malfunction before the crash.
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A man who was found shot to death in his trailer in Richmond has been identified as 50-year-old Richard Lovato, Richmond police Lt. Bisa French said.

Police received a call at about 9:50 a.m. Friday from a man who had stopped by the trailer, which was parked in the driveway of a house in the 1800 block of Virginia Avenue, and found Lovato dead inside.

It appeared that he died from at least one gunshot wound, French said.

There were no witnesses to the shooting and police did not have any suspect information this afternoon.

Police had received a report of gunshots in the area about an hour before Lovato's body was found, but when officers checked the area, they didn't find any victims or evidence of gunfire, French said.
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A Sonoma man was sentenced to 21 years in prison Friday morning for fatally shooting a Penngrove man who was working on stereo equipment in his home two years ago.

Salvador Camargo, 28, pleaded no contest in April to voluntary manslaughter of 52-year-old Kenneth Swolley.

Swolley was fixing stereo equipment in the Arnold Drive house where Camargo was renting a room May 9, 2009.

Camargo shot Swolley in the head at close range and disposed of the firearm in a nearby vineyard pond. Dive teams from Sonoma and Solano counties recovered the weapon.

Camargo was arrested at a Pueblo Drive home about three miles away after he asked a woman to call 9-1-1 because someone was trying to kill him, the Sonoma County Sheriff's Office said.

Camargo was found mentally incompetent to stand trial and was sent to Napa State Hospital. A Sonoma County grand jury indicted him for the murder in January 2010 and he pleaded not guilty and not guilty by reason of insanity.

The Sonoma County District Attorney's Office agreed to the plea agreement with Camargo because of mental health evaluations and his drug use around the time of the murder, District Attorney Jill Ravitch said.

Swolley's family members remembered their brother and cousin as a talented baseball player, salesman, manager of seven businesses, horse lover.

"This was a horrific, uncalled for, unnecessary crime," Swolley's brother Johnny said.
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In his last day on the job Friday, Oakland City Attorney John Russo appointed Chief Assistant City Attorney Barbara Parker to be acting city attorney until a permanent successor is either appointed or elected.

Russo, who has been city attorney since 2000 and served on the City Council for six years prior to that, will begin serving as Alameda's city manager Monday.

The Oakland City Council now has 60 days to appoint a replacement for the rest of Russo's four-year term, which ends in December 2012.

If the council can't muster enough votes to make an appointment within 60 days, the city will have to hold a special election within 120 days to fill the post.

Russo announced May 4 that he would take the Alameda job, but it was widely known for a long time before then that he was seeking that position, largely because he has clashed with Oakland Mayor Jean Quan, who was sworn in Jan. 3.

In a letter to City Council members, Russo commented on their slowness in selecting a replacement, saying, "It is clear that the council will not make an appointment before I vacate the office."

In his letter, Russo said he is appointing Parker "to assure a seamless transition with an experienced, eminently qualified attorney in charge of the office until the council makes its appointment decision."

Parker has 20 years of experience in the Oakland City Attorney's Office, including more than 10 years as second in command to Russo. She graduated from Harvard Law School in 1975 and previously served for more than five years as an assistant U.S. attorney for the Northern District of California.

As Oakland's chief assistant city attorney, Parker has represented the City Attorney's Office at virtually all council meetings for the past decade.

Her responsibilities included overseeing a staff of about 20 attorneys and directing all legal advice provided to the Mayor's Office, City Council, City Administrator and all other city boards, commissions and departments.
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A man police dubbed the "Hot Spot Bandit" was arrested Friday morning in Pleasant Hill for allegedly stealing hundreds of dollars worth of lottery tickets, California Lottery spokesman Alex Traverso said.

Robert Wayne Ladd, a 39-year-old Pleasant Hill resident, was arrested on suspicion of nine counts of burglary.

Each count carries a possible sentence of two to six years in prison. If he is convicted, however, this would be Ladd's third strike, which means he could potentially be sentenced to life in prison, Traverso said.

The alleged thefts began in April and were mainly committed at Bay Area supermarkets.

In most cases, Ladd allegedly waited until a counter where Hot Spot tickets were being sold was left unattended, walked over and reached behind the counter, where he helped himself to hundreds of dollars worth of tickets, Traverso said.

Lottery police, working with Pleasant Hill police, obtained surveillance photos of Ladd and issued a warrant for his arrest earlier this week.

Investigators have also been working with the Contra Costa County District Attorney's Office, which will be prosecuting the case, Traverso said.
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Drug use or a medical condition might have caused a Sebastopol man to collide with three vehicles on state Highway 12 near Sebastopol, California Highway Patrol Office Jon Sloat said.

Diego Jameau, 54, of Sebastopol, was driving a Toyota Previa van east on Highway 12 at 80 to 100 mph around 9:30 a.m. Friday, Sloat said.

The Toyota rear-ended and disabled a Ford Ranger then continued traveling east. The Toyota then sideswiped two other vehicles that were stopped in the left lane waiting to turn south on Llano Road, Sloat said.

The van continued east on Highway 12 before it became disabled and caught fire.

A Sonoma County sheriff's deputy stopped and broke one of the van's windows to remove the driver. Jameau became combative and was handcuffed and CHP officers arrived, Sloat said.

Jameau was taken to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital and the driver of one of the other two vehicles at Llano Road complained of pain and was taken to Sutter Medical Center.

Alcohol does not appear to be a factor, and the CHP is investigating a medical condition or drug use as a cause of the collisions, Sloat said.
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A man who claimed to have a gun robbed the U.S. Bank in the Safeway store in American Canyon Thursday evening, the Napa County Sheriff's Office said.

The suspect demanded money from a teller and ran from the bank at 103 W. American Canyon Road with an undisclosed amount of money, sheriff's Capt. Tracey Stuart said.

No one was injured and a weapon was not seen, Stuart said.

American Canyon police responded to the robbery at 5:50 p.m.

The suspect is a thin black man who is about 5 feet 6 inches tall. He was wearing a black hooded sweatshirt and dark pants.
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The Bay Area is forecast to be cloudy this morning, becoming partly cloudy, with highs is the lower 60s and west winds of around 20 mph.

This evening is expected to be partly cloudy, becoming cloudy, with lows in the lower 50s and west winds of 15 to 20 mph.

Sunday is expected to be mostly cloudy, with highs in the upper 50s to mid 60s and southwest winds of 10 to 15 mph.

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