SF News

Man Fatally Stabbed After Giants Game Was Wearing Dodgers Gear

A man who was fatally stabbed several blocks from AT&T Park after a San Francisco Giants game on Wednesday night has been identified by the medical examiner's office as 24-year-old Jonathan Denver.

Denver, who was dressed in Los Angeles Dodgers clothing, was killed in an altercation that broke out at about 11:35 p.m. near Third and Harrison streets, four blocks from the ballpark where the Giants and Dodgers played earlier in the night.

During the fight, a suspect pulled out a sharp object and stabbed Denver, who was later taken to San Francisco General Hospital where he died, police said.

A second victim was punched several times and was treated for minor injuries.

Police detained three people after the stabbing and are continuing to interview them.

No arrests had been made in the case as of this morning, police spokeswoman Sgt. Danielle Newman said.

Newman said no other information about the case was immediately available except that Denver was wearing Dodgers gear when he was attacked.

Denver worked as a plumber's apprentice for North Coast Plumbing, Heating & Sheet Metal Inc. in Fort Bragg, according to an employee at the company.

It is not yet clear whether the fight stemmed from rivalry between Giants and Dodgers fans.

In 2011, Giants fan Bryan Stow was severely beaten after the team's season opener at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, and suffered severe brain injuries.

The Giants held a fundraiser for Stow at Tuesday's game against the Dodgers and have two more planned for today's game and their season finale on Sunday against the San Diego Padres.

 

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Motorcyclist Killed In Crash Near West Portal Identified

A motorcyclist who was killed in a crash near San Francisco's West Portal neighborhood on Wednesday night has been identified by the medical examiner's office as 35-year-old Bruce Romero.

Romero was riding his motorcycle in the 1000 block of Portola Drive around 9:15 p.m. when he struck a parked car, according to police.

He was taken to San Francisco General Hospital where he was pronounced dead, police said.

The crash remains under investigation.

 

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Power Restored To Over 12,000 Bay Area PG&E Customers

Power has been restored to more than 12,000 PG&E customers following outages in Castro Valley, Brisbane, Daly City and San Francisco this morning, according to a PG&E spokeswoman.

About 3,000 customers in Castro Valley were without power early this morning due to a downed wire, according to PG&E spokeswoman Janna Morris.

According to Morris, 39 customers remain without power in Castro Valley.

Customers are expected to have their power fully restored by 9 a.m.

More than 9,000 customers in Brisbane, Daly City and San Francisco have also had their power restored this morning, Morris said.

The cause of the outages is under investigation.

 

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Homicide Near AT&T Park Following Giants Game

Police are investigating a fatal stabbing that occurred just after a San Francisco Giants baseball game near San Francisco's AT&T Park late Wednesday night.

According to police, a confrontation between two groups of men following a Dodgers and Giants game broke out near the intersection of Third and Harrison streets at about 11:40 p.m.

The verbal disagreement led to a physical confrontation involving a knife, police said.

One person was stabbed during the fight and transported to the hospital where he succumbed to his injuries, police said.

According to police, three people have been detained in the area. Police are continuing to interview witnesses.

 

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Thursday Morning News Roundup

Oracle Team USA Fans Celebrate Comeback Victory At America's Cup

Tens of thousands watched a historic comeback win for Oracle Team USA on the San Francisco waterfront during the final race in the America's Cup Finals Wednesday afternoon.

Oracle triumphed over challenger Emirates Team New Zealand, defending the U.S. title.

When the 19th race of the finals began at 1:15 p.m. Wednesday, Oracle and New Zealand were tied 8-8.

Oracle had trailed by a margin of 8-1 last week, but its surprise winning streak of eight consecutive wins had tied up the regatta and forced Wednesday's winner-take-all face-off.

Both teams needed nine points to win the cup.

The Oracle team started the finals with a two-point deficit after being penalized for illegal boat modifications during earlier exhibition races, making the comeback all the more stunning.

At the award ceremony at America's Cup Park at Piers 27/29 after the Oracle victory, former mayor and current Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom congratulated the two teams and praised the city for hosting the regatta.

"This is the most fan-friendly America's Cup in history," Newsom said.

He thanked the massive crowd, estimated to have reached 25,000 at the waterfront venue, for "being part of history."

Mayor Ed Lee, wearing a blue Oracle Team USA hat, cheered for the triumphant team.

"This is what sports is all about," he said, adding he was proud of the competitors on both teams.

New Zealand skipper Dean Barker told the crowd he was disappointed but said Oracle was a tough competitor that brought an "unbelievable finale."

He recognized his fans, whom he called "our most loyal group of supporters here in San Francisco and around the world."

The coveted silver Cup was then presented to the Oracle crew, with the crowd chanting "USA!"

The team's skipper, Jimmy Spithill, said his crew worked hard for the so-called improbable outcome and that the fans' support carried them to the finish line.

"We dug out of a big hole," he said. "This is a team that never gives up."

The finals lasted longer than anticipated because of Oracle's comeback and mercurial wind conditions on the water, which resulted in some races being postponed.

There have been only two other neck-and-neck races such as this one in the 162-year history of the America's Cup, in 1920 and 1983, according to race officials.

With the Americans defending the Cup, the next race in 2016 will stay in the U.S.

Shooting Reported On Same Corner As Homicide Last Week

A victim was shot Wednesday evening in San Francisco's Potrero Hill neighborhood less than a week after two people were shot at the same corner, police said.

Wednesday's shooting was reported near the corner of 23rd and Arkansas streets at 6:57 p.m., police said.

An adult victim was taken to San Francisco General Hospital with a gunshot wound to the leg.

At the same corner last Thursday 24-year-old Jimmy Chandler and a 21-year-old woman were both shot.

Chandler died at the hospital a short time later and the woman survived, police said.

A large crowd gathered at the shooting scene that night and eventually turned hostile and police used pepper-spray to disperse the people.

Police have not reported any arrests in that shooting.

Ex-County Supervisor Wants Public Defender In Phony Campaign Mailer Case In San Jose

An attorney for former Santa Clara County Supervisor George Shirakawa Wednesday asked a judge in San Jose that a public defender take over a criminal case charging Shirakawa with creating a faked campaign mailer in 2010.

John Williams, who is Shirakawa's lawyer in a separate political corruption case, said that Shirakawa wanted the county's Office of the Public Defender to represent him on the felony charge related to the mailer.

Shirakawa, 51, resigned from office on March 1 as part of a deal with prosecutors in which he pleaded guilty to five felony and seven misdemeanor charges for filing inaccurate government finance and campaign reports.

Despite entering the guilty pleas back on March 18, Shirakawa still has not been sentenced.

His sentencing has been delayed while his lawyers fought the charge filed by the district attorney's office on June 5 related to the campaign leaflet.

Prosecutors charged Shirakawa with felony false impersonation, alleging he fabricated the mailer sent to voters in District 5 in San Jose to embarrass San Jose City Council candidate Magdalena Carrasco, who was running in 2010 against Xavier Campos.

Shirakawa's former aide Campos ultimately won the election for the District 5 seat and is currently serving on the City Council.

Superior Court Judge Rise Jones Pichon Wednesday agreed to allow Shirakawa to contact the public defender's office to see if he is eligible to be represented at no cost.

Pichon set two hearings for Oct. 2, one to decide when Shirakawa's next court date would be on the campaign mailer case and the other to assign a judge to preside over Shirakawa's sentencing in the political corruption case.

Shirakawa accompanied Williams to Pichon's courtroom in the Hall of Justice in San Jose and left the court without comment.

Deputy District Attorney John Chase said after Wednesday's hearing that at least two more hearings would have to take place before Shirakawa may be sentenced.

Shirakawa, in seeking representation from the public defender's office, is saying that he is indigent and cannot afford to pay for his legal fees, Assistant District Attorney Karyn Sinunu-Towery said.

"At the end the court will make that determination and decide whether he pays part or any of those attorney's fees," Sinunu-Towery said. "Indigent people in this county are entitled to representation from the public defender's office."

On Friday, Judge Griffin Bonini denied a motion by Shirakawa's private attorney, Jay Rorty, to dismiss the charge about the phony mailer.

Bonini, at Rorty's request, set Wednesday's hearing so that Shirakawa could identify a new lawyer who would represent him during future proceedings in the mailer case.

Prosecutors have requested that Shirakawa serve up to a year in county jail on the 12 charges he pleaded guilty to in March.

City Officials Unveil New Traffic Beacon For Sloat Blvd Pedestrian Safety

A new traffic beacon was unveiled Wednesday to improve pedestrian safety on a thoroughfare in San Francisco where a high school girl was killed earlier this year.

The new system of yellow and red lights was installed on Sloat Boulevard at Forest View Drive, where Lowell High School student Hanren Chang, 17, was killed by an allegedly drunk driver as she crossed the street on March 2.

Supervisor Katy Tang, who represents the area, said the traffic beacon is the first of its kind in San Francisco and only the second in the state.

The lights facing traffic remain blank until a pedestrian presses the button to cross the street, then flash yellow, then change to a steady yellow light and a steady red when it is time for the pedestrian to cross.

The lights will then blink red, meaning drivers should treat it as a stop sign and travel through the intersection only when the pedestrian is safely across the street.

Tang said many community members had already been pushing for improved pedestrian safety measures before Chang's death, and those calls only increased afterward.

"We want to make sure you feel safe crossing the street here," she said.

Anyan Cheng, a friend of Chang's, started an online petition asking the city to put up a signal at the intersection, saying pedestrians before "had to wait and hope drivers were nice enough to stop."

Cheng said, "I'm definitely happy that the city listened to the voice of the community," saying Lowell High students were particularly grateful since many get dropped off right at that that intersection by the 23-Monterey San Francisco Municipal Railway bus.

Chang's parents also attended Wednesday's unveiling ceremony and said it was a bittersweet day in the wake of their daughter's death.

Wenhan Chang, the girl's father, said, "It's bitter as it reminds us of the tragic event several months ago, however it's sweet to know that my daughter's sacrifice is not in vain."

He called on pedestrians to be alert and vigilant while crossing streets and for motorists to not drive under the influence or while distracted.

Kieren Brewer, the man who allegedly struck Hanren Chang, is still awaiting a preliminary hearing on felony vehicular manslaughter and DUI charges, district attorney's office spokesman Alex Bastian said.

San Francisco Department of Public Works director Mohammed Nuru said the $690,000 traffic beacon project was important on Sloat Boulevard, which he said has become a major street for traffic in the city.

San Francisco collaborated with Caltrans on the project because Sloat Boulevard also serves as state Highway 35 as it connects Skyline Boulevard to the west with state Highway 1, city officials said.

Nuru said the city is also soon installing another beacon, located at Sloat and 23rd Avenue, as well as putting in curb bulb-outs and other pedestrian improvements along the street in the coming months.

Police Capt. Curtis Lum said officers are also increasing patrols of the area and focusing on speeding drivers.

More information about the Sloat Boulevard improvements can be found on the SFDPW website at www.sfdpw.org/index.aspx?page=1688.

Sunnyvale Officer Justified In Shooting, Killing Man Coming At Him With Hammer

The Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office has concluded that a Sunnyvale police officer was justified in fatally shooting a man who came at him with a hammer raised over his head, prosecutors said Wednesday.

Officer Thomas Sprayberry of the Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety fired seven shots at Jason White, hitting him three times outside White's mother's home in Sunnyvale on Dec. 15, 2012, prosecutors said in a 34-page report released Wednesday.

Sprayberry had been called to the home in response to a domestic dispute that involved White, 36, and White's 68-year-old mother Georgiana at 884 Tartarian Way near Middlebury Drive in Sunnyvale at about 6 p.m., according to prosecutors.

The officer was the first to arrive at the scene, heard Jason and Georgiana White arguing on the driveway of the home and due to the urgency of the situation, did not have the opportunity to take along "less lethal force options" from his car while pursuing Jason White, prosecutors reported.

Sprayberry noticed White approach him holding a ball-peen hammer, raised above White's head as if to strike, prompting the officer to tell him repeatedly to "Put down the hammer," according to prosecutors who quoted witness accounts.

White, however, kept coming after the officer, who at first retreated, then dropped his flashlight and police baton and repeatedly ordered White to stop, prosecutors said.

According to the district attorney's office, after White did not stop advancing, Sprayberry fired his gun from a distance of 25 to 30 feet, aiming at White's torso, until the man fell.

"In our view, the officer used no more force than was necessary under the circumstances as he stopped shooting once White was on the ground," prosecutors reported.

The officer was justified in using deadly force to protect himself from an imminent threat posed by White, according to prosecutors.

"Based on all the evidence, we conclude that Officer Sprayberry lawfully discharged his firearm in self-defense," prosecutors said.

Prior to the shooting, White was intoxicated and when told by a neighbor that police were on the way, reportedly said, "I'll take on the f---ing police any day, any time!" prosecutors said.

Sprayberry had known Jason White after seeing him jaywalk in Sunnyvale in 2011, when White reportedly said that he would "lose it" the next time he met with police, prosecutors said.

Redwood City Park Ranger Killed In 1976 Inducted In Peace Officer Memorial

California Parks and Recreation Service Ranger Patricia Scully was remembered Wednesday as a very dedicated ranger who was "absolutely in her element," before her life was cut short in 1976 when at 25 years old she was killed by a drunken driver while patrolling state beaches along the coast near Half Moon Bay.

Scully was inducted to the San Mateo County Peace Officer's Memorial at a windy morning ceremony in the courtyard of the San Mateo County Center some 37 years after her death.

Speaking on Scully's behalf at the formal ceremony, which included the San Mateo County Sheriff's Honor Guard, a lone bagpiper and a formal flag-folding procedure, was her older brother Tom Scully, San Mateo County Sheriff Greg Munks, former sheriff and now District 3 San Mateo County Supervisor Don Horsley and California Parks Service Ranger Nelle Lyons, who received the Scully Scholarship in 1999.

The second female law enforcement officer ever killed in California, Scully helped carve out a woman's role in law enforcement, being hired as a ranger only two years after the first woman was hired and just six years after women were allowed to serve in law enforcement, Nelle Lyons with the California Parks Service highlighted at Wednesday's ceremony.

"She was confident in what she was doing in a new field for women," Lyons said.

Lyons said Scully was truly missed by all who knew her but she also impacted those she never knew including Lyons herself, who benefited from the Scully Scholarship.

Horsley told the crowd of more than 40 people that Scully was never added to the memorial because at the time of her death, the memorial did not exist.

He said it was brought to his attention and with the help of state Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, and others, they were able to ensure that Scully was recognized for her contributions.

Scully, it was remembered by brother Tom Scully, was someone that everyone in her large family of six siblings looked up to.

He said she always wanted to give back and being with the parks department gave her that perfect opportunity.

He said the family has honored her with a bench at Ano Nuevo State Beach and a specified portion of state Highway 1 has been named Ranger Patricia M. Scully Memorial Highway, for which the family is grateful.

In conjunction with National Police Week, each May the San Mateo County Police Chiefs and Sheriff Association conduct the annual Fallen Police Officers Memorial Ceremony at the Old Courthouse Museum Square.

Scully's name and honor will be added to the list of 27 local officers who have died in the line of duty in the county's history.

Her family, including Scully's 96-year-old mother, will be invited to the ceremony each year.

Caltrain Tracks Reopen After Brush Fire Forces Two-Hour Closure In Burlingame

A brush fire that spanned both sides of the Caltrain tracks in Burlingame Wednesday evening caused major delays for the rail service throughout the evening commute, fire and Caltrain officials said.

Burlingame police asked Caltrain to halt train service at 6:15 p.m. because of a brush fire near the Broadway station, according to Caltrain.

A San Mateo County fire dispatcher said that the fire was burning in the area of California Drive and Dufferin Avenue.

The fire spanned about two-and-a-half acres and started on the east side but spread to the west side of the tracks, prompting firefighters to shut down train service to keep firefighters safe as they worked to put out the fire, Central County Fire Department Division Chief Rocque Yballa said.

Firefighters quickly contained the fire but the tracks remained closed for about two hours while crews worked on putting out hot spots and making sure the fire didn't flare up again, Yballa said.

"Any time you have combustible vegetation, you need to break it apart to make sure it doesn't re-flash," Yballa said.

The tracks reopened shortly after 8 p.m. but major delays on the service are continuing due to the long track closure, Caltrain spokeswoman Christine Dunn said.

SamTrans provided a free bus bridge between San Mateo, Burlingame and Millbrae while SamTrans, VTA and BART accepted Caltrain tickets Wednesday evening, she said.

No one was injured by the fire and investigators are working to determine what caused it, Yballa said.

Man Wanted On $1M Warrant For Gang Shooting Turns Himself Into Salinas

A man wanted on a $1 million arrest warrant stemming from a gang-related shooting that left another man badly injured has turned himself in to Salinas police.

Fernando "Freddy" Valdez, 23, surrendered at about 10:30 a.m. Sunday after arranging with his attorney to meet with police, police said.

Valdez was placed under arrest on suspicion of attempted murder and gang allegations, police said.

His surrender came three days after police obtained the million-dollar warrant for his arrest in connection with a Sept. 10 attempted murder with a firearm that is considered gang-related, police said.

The victim of the shooting was sitting in a car at the intersection of John Street and South Sanborn Road in Salinas when someone fired shots into the vehicle, police said.

He suffered multiple bullet wounds to the torso and was initially in critical condition.

He remains hospitalized but his condition has been upgraded to serious but stable, police said Wednesday.

Weather Forecast For The San Francisco Bay Area

 

Sunny skies are likely in the Bay Area this morning.

Highs are likely to be in the 60s to lower 70s, with northwest winds up to 20 mph.

Clear skies are expected this evening.

Lows are likely to be in the mid 50s, with winds up to 20 mph.

 Sunny skies are likely Friday morning. 

Highs are expected to be in the lower 60s to mid 70s, with northwest winds up to 10 mph.

 

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Weather Forecast For The San Francisco Bay Area

Sunny skies are likely in the Bay Area this morning.

Highs are likely to be in the 60s to lower 70s, with northwest winds up to 20 mph.

Clear skies are expected this evening.

Lows are likely to be in the mid 50s, with winds up to 20 mph.

Sunny skies are likely Friday morning.

Highs are expected to be in the lower 60s to mid 70s, with northwest winds up to 10 mph.

 

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More Than 200 PG&E Customers Without Power This Morning

An outage knocked out power to more than 200 PG&E customers in San Francisco this morning, according to PG&E officials.

The outage began at about 11:55 p.m. on Wednesday, according to PG&E.

A total of 233 PG&E customers remain without power in San Francisco as of 1 a.m. this morning.

 

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CPUC Legalizes Ridesharing Companies With New Rules, Regulations

The California Public Utilities Commission today unanimously approved implementing regulations for online-enabled rideshare services -- making California the first state to legalize transportation options such as Lyft and Sidecar.

The five commissioners gave the go-ahead at a meeting this morning in San Francisco after hearing public comment that included taxi drivers who oppose the ridesharing companies and other people who support the nascent industry.

The commission decided to regulate companies like Lyft, UberX and Sidecar, defined as Transportation Network Companies, which use online platforms to connect passengers to drivers who are using their own vehicles.

As approved, the CPUC will require the companies to be licensed by the commission, perform background checks on drivers, implement or strengthen a driver-training program, conduct car inspections and carry a $1 million-per-incident insurance policy for drivers using their own vehicles to transport passengers.

A zero-tolerance drug and alcohol policy will also be enforced among the total of 28 rules and regulations approved by the commission.

CPUC President Michael Peevey said at today's meeting that he supported the regulations to "ensure safety isn't compromised."

Peevey said the companies are part of a "rapidly growing sharing economy" and that the commission needs to keep drivers and passengers safe.

The CPUC, which regulates passenger carriers, will expand their purview to this "new path-breaking approach to transportation," Commissioner Mark Ferron said.

Ferron said the rules will promote safety yet foster the developing industry.

"We're the first commission to grant this authority on a statewide basis," he said.

Ferron said in recent months since the proposed regulations were introduced, he has met with taxi companies and drivers, who mostly oppose regulating the alternative transportation service.

"Taxicabs provide an extremely valuable service to communities," Ferron said.

"They are a unique and time-tested form of transportation."

He concluded, "We have room for both types of transportation providers."

Ferron called for a workshop to be held in one year to examine the effects of the transportation network companies, and for continual assessments of the service.

Commissioner Mike Florio said he thinks taxis and online-enabled ridesharing services can co-exist.

"We have folks who only use these services, other people who only use cabs and people have different preferences and different needs," Florio said.

"This will allow both to take place on a fair basis."

Commissioner Carla Peterman emphasized that the regulations are about safety.

"Overall I feel these new rules will improve safety," she said.

She advised consumers to get informed about transportation options and rideshare drivers "to be educated on what will happen in the event of an accident."

 

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Thursday Midday News Roundup

 

CPUC Legalizes Ridesharing Companies With New Rules, Regulations

The California Public Utilities Commission today unanimously approved implementing regulations for online-enabled rideshare services -- making California the first state to legalize transportation options such as Lyft and Sidecar.

The five commissioners gave the go-ahead at a meeting this morning in San Francisco after hearing public comment that included taxi drivers who oppose the ridesharing companies and other people who support the nascent industry.

The commission decided to regulate companies like Lyft, UberX and Sidecar, defined as Transportation Network Companies, which use online platforms to connect passengers to drivers who are using their own vehicles.

As approved, the CPUC will require the companies to be licensed by the commission, perform background checks on drivers, implement or strengthen a driver-training program, conduct car inspections and carry a $1 million-per-incident insurance policy for drivers using their own vehicles to transport passengers.

A zero-tolerance drug and alcohol policy will also be enforced among the total of 28 rules and regulations approved by the commission.

CPUC President Michael Peevey said at today's meeting that he supported the regulations to "ensure safety isn't compromised."

Peevey said the companies are part of a "rapidly growing sharing economy" and that the commission needs to keep drivers and passengers safe.

The CPUC, which regulates passenger carriers, will expand their purview to this "new path-breaking approach to transportation," Commissioner Mark Ferron said.

Ferron said the rules will promote safety yet foster the developing industry.

"We're the first commission to grant this authority on a statewide basis," he said.

Ferron said in recent months since the proposed regulations were introduced, he has met with taxi companies and drivers, who mostly oppose regulating the alternative transportation service.

"Taxicabs provide an extremely valuable service to communities," Ferron said. "They are a unique and time-tested form of transportation." He concluded, "We have room for both types of transportation providers."

Ferron called for a workshop to be held in one year to examine the effects of the transportation network companies, and for continual assessments of the service.

Commissioner Mike Florio said he thinks taxis and online-enabled ridesharing services can co-exist.

"We have folks who only use these services, other people who only use cabs and people have different preferences and different needs," Florio said.

"This will allow both to take place on a fair basis."

Commissioner Carla Peterman emphasized that the regulations are about safety.

"Overall I feel these new rules will improve safety," she said.

She advised consumers to get informed about transportation options and rideshare drivers "to be educated on what will happen in the event of an accident."

 

 

83-Year-Old Woman Has Purse Snatched In Excelsior

An elderly woman had her purse snatched by a female suspect in San Francisco's Excelsior District on Wednesday morning, police said today.

The 83-year-old woman was robbed at about 10:45 a.m. near Naples Street and Italy Avenue, according to police.

The suspect approached the woman from behind and grabbed her purse.

The victim tried to hold onto it but the suspect overpowered her and fled with the purse, which contained a cellphone, credit cards and cash, police said.

The woman complained of pain to her shoulder and sought medical treatment for the injury, according to police.

The suspect remained at large as of this morning.

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

 

 

UC Launches Crowdfunding Scholarshp Campaign

The University of California has launched a six-week crowdfunding campaign, Promise for Education, to raise money for student scholarships.

The campaign, which was launched Wednesday, will encourage individuals to make a personal promise like running a marathon, volunteering or growing a beard, then set a crowdfunding goal and share their promise through social media.

Donations can then be made to see the promises fulfilled and all proceeds will go to University of California students with financial needs, according to university officials.

Promise for Education is the latest addition to the university's Project You Can campaign, which aims to raise $1 billion for student support by 2014.

Celebrities and notable public figures are appearing in public service announcements and creating promises to encourage public engagement.

Jamie Foxx, David Spade and Gabrielle Union are among the celebrities participating in the campaign, according to university officials.

Sponsors of the campaign include Facebook, Bank of America and Spotify.

To make a promise, make a donation or to learn more about the campaign, people can go to promiseforeducation.org.

 

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Thursday Morning Roundup

HBO Filming New Series In City

A new HBO television series began filming in San Francisco this week, according to the mayor's office.

"Looking," a show about three gay men in San Francisco starring Frankie Alvarez, Murray Bartlett and Jonathan Groff, will complete filming in the city in November for its first season on the popular cable channel, Mayor Ed Lee announced.

Producers of the series signed a lease for stage and office space in the city's Mission District, according to Lee's office.

HBO filmed the show's pilot in April after previously filming "Hemingway & Gellhorn," a film starring Nicole Kidman and Clive Owen, in 2011, according to Lee's office.

"I am thrilled to have HBO return to San Francisco," the mayor said in a statement.

"Productions like this help showcase our world-class city to the world."

HBO president of programming Michael Lombardo said the show "is as much about San Francisco as it is about the characters" and said "we are thrilled to be shooting in the city."

 

Campaign Launched On Voters To Reject Waterfront Condo Project

Current and former San Francisco officials Wednesday called for voters to reject two measures on the November ballot that would allow a condominium project to move forward along the city's waterfront.

With Propositions B and C, San Francisco voters will decide the fate of the 8 Washington project, a proposed 134-unit condo complex located just north of the Ferry Building in the city's Financial District.

The project was approved by the city's Board of Supervisors last year but opponents gathered tens of thousands of signatures to put the plans on hold and place a referendum on the ballot in the form of Proposition C.

The 8 Washington project's proponents have also placed a separate competing initiative on the ballot in the form of Proposition B.

Board of Supervisors president David Chiu, former Mayor Art Agnos and others gathered near the site of the proposed development Wednesday morning to call on San Franciscans to vote "no" on both measures, calling it a "wall on the waterfront."

Agnos said the city tore down the double-decker Embarcadero Freeway and has been working to make the waterfront more accessible and appealing to the public.

"It belongs to all of San Francisco" but "is being sold to the highest bidder" in the form of condos costing about $5 million each, Agnos said.

Chiu said the development would also be built on top of the city's largest sewer line, which handles 20 million gallons of sewage daily.

Chiu said if something went wrong on the project that caused a sewage spill, "it really could jeopardize the neighborhood and create a major liability for the city."

Organizers of the Yes on B campaign say the 8 Washington site is currently an asphalt lot and private club blocked off by a 1,735-foot-long fence and that the project would create 30,000 square feet of new public open space in the area.

Campaign spokesman David Beltran said the 8 Washington opponents were just putting out misleading information and scare tactics "geared to distract from the fact that there's vast public benefit from the project."

More information from opponents of the project is available online at www.nowallonthewaterfront.com while the Yes on B proponents have more information at www.openupthewaterfront.org.

 

'Jerry Garcia Amphitheater' To Keep Its Name After Tentative Plans To Revamp Mclaren Park Dropped

The Jerry Garcia Amphitheater at San Francisco's McLaren Park will continue to carry on the name of the Grateful Dead bandleader who lived near the park in his youth.

A community group based out of the Excelsior neighborhood where the park is located formed earlier this year to oppose a potential proposal from the city's Recreation and Park Department to partner with Los Angeles-based nonprofit Levitt Pavilions.

The organization helps fund renovations and operations at outdoor park venues for shows and performances.

Levitt Pavilions executive director Sharon Yazowski said about a month ago the two entities decided that the site was "too small to accommodate the Levitt program."

Under the proposal, Levitt would have brought in 50 free concerts a year to the space and repair the aging amphitheater and the park department would have renamed the site as the "Levitt Pavilion San Francisco at Jerry Garcia Meadow."

Part of the proposal at the park included putting in lawn seating for about 5,000 where there are only 2,000 seats.

"We knew the space was tight while the conversation with the naming was happening," Yazowski said.

The parks department had reached out to Levitt in 2009 to explore a partnership and began in earnest to look into feasibility of the project in late 2012, according to Yazowski.

Yazowski said the park amphitheater seemed like a venue that could benefit from a Levitt partnership.

"The park could benefit from some improvements," she said, adding that the organization would still be interested to work with the city at another location.

As part of the Levitt public-private partnership, the group would have given about $400,000 of seed money to build or improve a bandshell that usually costs up to $2.5 million.

The proposed name change and other modifications prompted the formation of the "Save Jerry Garcia Amphitheater" group.

One of the group's leaders, Tom Murphy, who once lived in the neighborhood and had been on a committee that pushed for the performance space to be named after Garcia in 2005, said the group is pleased that the space will continue to "honor a local legend."

Murphy said the Levitt vision for the space "just wasn't the right fit for that community."

He credited the organization, along with the parks department and mayor's office, for being professional and respectful during conversations about the proposed changes.

"They definitely wanted to do what the community wanted," he said.

The group is now focusing on "getting the place activated and promoted properly," Murphy said.

He said other than Jerry Day festivities once a summer there has been a decline in use of the amphitheater, which was renovated in 2005 with money from the late guitarist's estate.

"We're trying to figure out a way to get it more active," he said. "We want to preserve this. We all think it's important to preserve the heritage of an icon who grew up in the area."

 

Weather Forecast

Sunny skies are expected in the Bay Area this morning.

Highs are likely to be in the mid 60s to upper 70s, with westerly winds up to 15 mph in the afternoon.

Clear skies are expected this evening.

Lows are likely to be in the upper 50s, with westerly winds up to 20 mph.

Partly cloudy skies are likely Friday morning.

Highs are expected to be in the 60s, with westerly winds up to 20 mph in the afternoon.

 

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Wednesday Midday News Roundup

Law Enforcement Officers Search for San Mateo Burglars 

Law enforcement officers are attempting to locate one or more suspects who burglarized half a dozen businesses in San Mateo, police said.

The burglaries occurred within a 1.5-mile radius near the intersection of 25th Avenue and El Camino Real late last Wednesday night or early Thursday morning, according to police.

In three of the incidents, one or more burglars attempted to enter the businesses but did not steal anything, according to police.

Investigators say the pattern of trying to enter the businesses through back entrances and the targeting of cash and portable items show that a single suspect or group is likely behind the crimes.

Police are reviewing surveillance images of one of the suspected burglars and are releasing those photos.

Police are working with merchants on ways to prevent crime.

Business owners are encouraged to secure doors and windows with high-quality locks or burglar-resistant glass, to install lighting and alarm systems.

 

Sketch Released in Search of man Resposible in Sexual Assult on Hotel Housekeeper 

Police have released a sketch of a man who sexually assaulted a DoubleTree Hotel housekeeper in Rohnert Park on Friday afternoon.

The sketch is of a man who attacked the woman while she was cleaning a hotel room around 3:45 p.m., according to police.

The victim reporting seeing the suspect as he walked toward the hotel from Rogers Plaza at 101 Golf Course Drive.

The woman was cleaning a first-floor room patio when the attack occurred, police said.

While cleaning, the suspect grabbed her from behind and put a knife to her throat. He then forced her through the sliding doors into the room and ordered her to not scream.

The suspect tied up the victim and began to sexually assault her, but the victim was able to fight off the suspect, police said.

She screamed and was able to get help from another employee who called police. The victim was taken to the hospital.

The suspect had run out of the room back toward Rogers Plaza.

Police searched the area but were unable to find him.

The suspect is described as a black man, between the ages of 30 and 40 and stands between 5 feet 10 inches and 6 feet tall with a thin build. He has a tattoo of writing on the side of his neck.

At the time of the attack he was wearing a white button-down shirt with small stripes on it, black dress pants, and black gloves.

Anyone with information about the case is asked call Rohnert Park Department of Public Safety Detective Tara Douglas at (707) 588-3526.

 

Santa Rosa Police Identify Attempted Murder Suspect  

Santa Rosa police have identified an attempted murder suspect as 30-year-old Samuel Fessemay Tewolde.

The Santa Rosa resident, a known gang member with a violent criminal history, allegedly fired several shots at his intended victim in Railroad Square on Sept. 5, Sgt. Eric Goldschlag said.

No one was injured but a vehicle in a parking lot was struck by gunfire.

Two groups of people got into an argument inside a business around 7:20 p.m., Goldschlag said. The argument continued in a parking lot in the area of 24 Fourth St.

Tewolde is wanted for attempted murder, assault with a firearm and being an ex-felon in possession of a firearm, Goldschlag said.

He is a black male, 6 feet 2 inches tall, 210 pounds and is considered armed and dangerous, Goldschlag said.

The Sonoma County Alliance has offered a $1,500 reward for information that leads to his arrest. Anyone with information is asked to call Detective Travis Menke at (707) 543-4095.

 

Coroners Identify Thrid Victim in Pittsburg House Fire 

The Contra Costa County coroner's office has identified the third woman who perished in a Pittsburg house fire early Sunday as 77-year-old Ana Gonzalez.

Gonzalez' daughter, Sandra Gonzalez, 51, and 49-year-old Maritza Mena were also killed in the two-alarm fire, which was reported around 12:30 a.m., authorities said.

Firefighters pulled each of the women from the burning home the three shared in the 200 block of Dimaggio Avenue.

All were pronounced dead at the scene, according to Contra Costa County Fire Protection District spokesman Steve Aubert.

Aubert said fire personnel found three smoke detectors without batteries on a shelf inside the home.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

 

Man Seriously Injured in Polk Gulch Stabbing 

A man was seriously injured in a stabbing in San Francisco's Polk Gulch neighborhood Tuesday night, police said today.

The stabbing was reported around 9:30 p.m. at Polk and Pine streets.

The victim and suspect met at a nearby cafe and then left. As they got to the street corner, an argument began and the victim was stabbed in the torso, police said.

The victim was taken to San Francisco General Hospital to be treated for his injuries, which were initially considered life threatening.

However, he is now expected to survive, police spokesman Officer Gordon Shyy said this morning.

The suspect was last seen fleeing on a bicycle south on Polk Street. He was described as a white man between 40 and 50 years old who was wearing a black baseball hat, gray jacket and blue jeans and rode a black bicycle, Shyy said.

 

Unsafe Bacterial Water Detected in Monterey County Beaches  

Bacteria samples taken Monday at the San Carlos Beach in Monterey County have indicated unsafe bacterial water quality, prompting officials to post a beach advisory to sway people from having contact with the water.

According to the Monterey County Health Department, which issued the advisory Tuesday at 2 p.m., higher levels of bacteria have been associated with a potential risk of illness.

People are encouraged to avoid contact of any kind with the water. That means no swimming or contact with storm drain water, officials warn.

The beach advisory will remain posted until samples indicate that bacteria are at a safe level for recreational water contact in accordance with state guidelines.

For more information on Monterey County Beaches, visit the county Beach Condition Website at http://www.mtyhd.org/index.php/beach-water-quality.

 

Body Pulled From Bay Identified as Southern California Man

A body pulled from the Bay near San Francisco's Pier 30 on Monday has been identified by the city's medical examiner's office as 42-year-old Ronald Laverty.

The body of Laverty, a resident of Vista in San Diego County, was reported at about 8:10 a.m. Monday at the pier located near Bryant Street and The Embarcadero, fire officials said.

A rescue boat sent to the area was able to retrieve the body, according to fire officials.

 

Mountain Loin Sightings in San Woodside  

Two reports were issued Tuesday for mountain lion sightings in Woodside, just four miles apart from one another, the San Mateo County Office of Emergency Services reported.

The first sighting occurred in the 400 block of Raymundo Drive just after 6 a.m. when a cat was seen in the area, emergency officials reported.

A second report occurred Tuesday at 11:20 p.m. when security staff at a home in the 700 block of Mountain Home Road reported seeing the animal. Responding officials were unable to locate it.

Although nearly 17 hours difference, the two locations where the cats were reported are just about four miles apart with Canada Road linking the two wooded areas.

Emergency officials warn residents who might come in contact with the wild cats to not run from them.

Instead, officials advise people to look big and make noise and also throw rocks or other objects near the animal to scare it away.

Keep a close eye on small children, officials report. More information about mountain lions can be found online at www.keepmewild.org.

 

House Fire Dispalces Pacifica Residents 

Two Pacifica residents were displaced from their home after a fire this morning, North County Fire Authority officials said.

The blaze was reported at 2:54 a.m. at two-story home on Vega Court. Arriving crews found smoke coming from the garage of the house.

Firefighters were able to keep the fire contained to the garage. They remained at the home until about 5 a.m., officials said.

No injuries were reported.

The two people living at the home are receiving assistance from family and neighbors, officials said. The cause of the fire is under investigation.

 

Masked Man Attempts Purse Snatch 

A masked man attempting to snatch a woman's purse from her while she sat in her car on a South San Francisco street was scared away when the woman kicked, screamed and repeatedly honked her horn, police reported.

Police today continue to search for the suspect one week after the attempted assault.

The woman was in her car in front of a home on Chatham Court on Sept. 11 at 9 p.m.

Police say a man wearing shorts, a camouflaged hooded sweatshirt and black face mask approached the woman and grabbed her arms.

The man in his 20s was scared when she made a bunch of noise. He ran off heading westbound on Greendale Drive from Chatham Court.

Police are searching for the suspect and encourage anyone with information to contact police at (650) 877-8900.

 

Supervisor Proposes Partnership with Microfinance Nonprofit to Support Local Buisness  

A San Francisco supervisor proposed a new partnership Tuesday between the city and the microfinance organization Kiva to support local small businesses.

Supervisor Mark Farrell at Tuesday's Board of Supervisors meeting introduced a resolution to establish the new public-private partnership with Kiva, which uses a crowd-funding model to provide loans to small businesses around the world who do not have access to traditional banks.

The nonprofit has started a new project, Kiva Zip, to provide zero percent loans to small businesses in the U.S., and San Francisco would become the second city to partner with them after Oakland joined up earlier this year.

Farrell said the program would help small businesses that "lack access to the capital they need to start or expand their businesses."

Loans would start at $5,000 and the city's Office of Economic and Workforce Development would act as the official city trustee to identify small businesses that qualify as Kiva Zip borrowers, Farrell said.

The supervisor said he has already signed up as a trustee for Abundant Market, a small shop that opened recently in his district's Pacific Heights neighborhood and is trying to raise money through Kiva Zip to expand their business.

Farrell said the city and trustees have no financial liability for the loans and encouraged the other supervisors to sign up as trustees for small businesses in their districts.

The resolution would call on the Office of Economic and Workforce Development to establish a process for how potential borrowers can qualify for the Kiva Zip loans.

"We have the opportunity to engage and empower our community in new ways" and "help create thriving neighborhoods" in the city, Farrell said.

More information about the program can be found at zip.kiva.org.

 

Salinas Police Issue 90 Citations at Checkpoint  

Salinas police issued more than 90 citations at a DUI and driver's license checkpoint Monday, including tickets given to nearly 60 drivers for driving without a license, police said.

Officers set up the checkpoint at the Cesar Chavez Library at 615 Williams Road, made traffic stops and conducted field sobriety tests from 6:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. Monday, police said.

No one was arrested as a result of the four field sobriety tests, but out of the 91 tickets given out by police, 58 went to people cited for driving without a license and 31 for moving violations, police said.

Two drivers were arrested for having outstanding warrants for their arrest and two were ticketed for driving with a suspended license, police said.

While the checkpoint was in place, police contacted 656 drivers and three motorcycle officers made 44 traffic stops, police said. 

 

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Supervisor Proposes New Partnership to Provide Microfinance Loans to Businesses

A San Francisco supervisor proposed a new partnership Tuesday between the city and the microfinance organization Kiva to support local small businesses.

Supervisor Mark Farrell at Tuesday's Board of Supervisors meeting introduced a resolution to establish the new public-private partnership with Kiva, which uses a crowd-funding model to provide loans to small businesses around the world who do not have access to traditional banks.

The nonprofit has started a new project, Kiva Zip, to provide zero percent loans to small businesses in the U.S., and San Francisco would become the second city to partner with them after Oakland joined up earlier this year.

Farrell said the program would help small businesses that "lack access to the capital they need to start or expand their businesses."

Loans would start at $5,000 and the city's Office of Economic and Workforce Development would act as the official city trustee to identify small businesses that qualify as Kiva Zip borrowers, Farrell said.

The supervisor said he has already signed up as a trustee for Abundant Market, a small shop that opened recently in his district's Pacific Heights neighborhood and is trying to raise money through Kiva Zip to expand their business.

Farrell said the city and trustees have no financial liability for the loans and encouraged the other supervisors to sign up as trustees for small businesses in their districts. The resolution would call on the Office of Economic and Workforce Development to establish a process for how potential borrowers can qualify for the Kiva Zip loans.

"We have the opportunity to engage and empower our community in new ways" and "help create thriving neighborhoods" in the city, Farrell said.

More information about the program can be found at zip.kiva.org.

 

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Man Seriously Injured in Polk Gulch Stabbing

A man was seriously injured in a stabbing in San Francisco's Polk Gulch neighborhood Tuesday night, police said today.

The stabbing was reported around 9:30 p.m. at Polk and Pine streets.

The victim and suspect met at a nearby cafe and then left. As they got to the street corner, an argument began and the victim was stabbed in the torso, police said.

The victim was taken to San Francisco General Hospital to be treated for his injuries, which were initially considered life threatening.

However, he is now expected to survive, police spokesman Officer Gordon Shyy said this morning.

The suspect was last seen fleeing on a bicycle south on Polk Street. He was described as a white man between 40 and 50 years old who was wearing a black baseball hat, gray jacket and blue jeans and rode a black bicycle, Shyy said.

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

 

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Update: BART Trains Back on Schedule After System-Wide Delays

BART trains are back on schedule after major delays throughout the transit system this morning, according to BART personnel.

Commuters experienced around 20-minute delays system-wide between 8:45 a.m. and 9:45 a.m. due to mechanical problems on an East Bay train, BART personnel said.

The delays had cleared and BART was recovering a short time after 10 a.m.

 

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Body Found in Bay Identified as 42 Year-Old Southern California Man

A body pulled from the Bay near San Francisco's Pier 30 on Monday has been identified by the city's medical examiner's office as 42-year-old Ronald Laverty.

The body of Laverty, a resident of Vista in San Diego County, was reported at about 8:10 a.m. Monday at the pier located near Bryant Street and The Embarcadero, fire officials said.

A rescue boat sent to the area was able to retrieve the body, according to fire officials.

 

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BART Delays Affecting Trains System-Wide

Commuters on BART can expect up to 20-minute delays throughout the train system this morning, according to BART personnel.
The delays began on trains headed from East Bay stations toward San Francisco International Airport and were expected to affect trains system-wide as of 8:45 a.m.
The delays were caused by a train with mechanical problems, an operator said.
 

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Wednesday Morning News Roundup

Joseph Naso Sentenced to Death for Murder of Four Notherne California Women 

After hearing evidence in Marin County Superior Court for three months, excluding a two-week break in July, six men and six women jurors took
a total of less than nine hours to convict former commercial photographer Joseph Naso of killing four Northern California women and sentence him to death.

Naso, 79, of Reno, Nev. was stoic when the death sentence decision was read Tuesday around 4 p.m., about 24 hours after he told the full panel that included nine alternate jurors, "I wish I had a group picture of you. I thank you and wish you well."

Naso's advisory counsel, Deputy Public Defender Pedro Oliveros, said he had "braced" Naso for the death penalty verdict.

"He was prepared for both resolutions," Oliveros said.

After deliberating 5 1/2 hours on Aug. 20, the jury convicted Naso of the murders that occurred between 1977 and 1994. The panel deliberated three hours Tuesday before agreeing on the death penalty. The alternative was life in prison without parole.

The death sentence applies to three of the slain women, Carmen Colon, 22, Pamela Parsons, 38, and 31-year-old Tracy Tafoya. The death penalty was not in effect in California when the body of 18-year-old Roxene Roggasch was found near Fairfax in January 1977.

Prosecutors Dori Ahana and Rosemary Slote presented what seemed like endless evidence, much of it found in Naso's Reno home after his arrest in April 2010, that connected Naso to the strangulations of the four women who worked as prostitutes.

It included photos Naso took of women dressed in lingerie and heels who appeared dead or unconscious. Naso admitted during the trial his fetish for photographing women in nylons and high heels.

The evidence also included Naso's and his ex-wife Judith's DNA that were found on two of the four pairs of pantyhose on Roggasch's body.

Photos of Parsons, who Naso admitted photographing after he picked her up hitchhiking, and newspaper stories about her and Tafoya's deaths in Yuba County, were found in Naso's home.

Naso, who told the jury he was a "packrat" and a collector, kept a handwritten "list of 10" that contained references to 10 "girls" Naso is believed to have killed, where they were from or where he dumped their bodies. The bodies of the four women Naso killed were found in Marin, Contra Costa and Yuba counties.

Naso also kept what the prosecution called a "rape diary" in which Naso described picking up and sexually assaulting women in various cities over several decades.

Dr. Park Dietz, a well-known forensic psychiatrist, testified Naso fit the profile of sexually sadistic killers and rapists who save "mementos" of his victims that can include clothing, news articles and photos.

He said the killers and rapists prey on vulnerable and trusting women such as prostitutes and sometimes pose as photographers to lure their victims for their own sexual gratification.

Throughout the trial Naso insisted he was an accomplished working commercial photographer, a family man and a good father to his son. He called the rape diaries "date diaries" and said only two of his "dates" filed complaints about his behavior in 1958 and in 1961.

He said the presence of his DNA on the pantyhose found on Roggasch's body meant only that he might have had sex with her.

 

Child Hospitialized by Debris after Fruitvale Shooting


A child was hospitalized after being hit by glass debris in a shooting near Oakland's Fruitvale neighborhood Tuesday afternoon, an Oakland police spokeswoman said.

Police initially reported one person was hit by gunfire in the 1500 block of 27th Avenue around 4:45 p.m., however it appears only the child was injured by shattered glass, Oakland police Officer Johnna Watson said.

It appears no one was hit by bullets, Watson said.

The child was taken to the hospital and is in stable condition, Watson said.

Watson said at least one vehicle was involved in the shooting.

 

Blind Minister and Seeing-Eye Dog Struck by Hit-and-Run Driver


A blind East Palo Alto minister and his seeing-eye dog were struck by a car Monday night, according to police.

The Rev. Albert Macklin of the New Sweet Home Church of God in Christ was walking on Myrtle Street near Sparrow Court around 8:05 p.m. when a car hit him and his dog.

Macklin said Tuesday that he was uninjured in the incident, save for some "emotional trauma." His black lab guide dog escaped unscathed but is disoriented.

He said the pooch will soon be evaluated by officials from a guide-dog organization.

"I actually stayed home today," he said. "I got ready to go, but I couldn't get back on the street today."

Police said the driver stopped and asked the minister if he was OK and said she was going to move her car, but drove away from the scene instead.

Macklin said the driver was female based on her voice, but that he did not have other information about the car or what she looked like.

He said she did not give him a chance to tell her if he or his dog were injured in the collision before driving away.

He hopes to identify the person who jeopardized his safety.

"It's just not safe for me to walk to the church," he said. He said he is considering hiring someone to drive him to his workplace in the future.

Macklin said he walks every day from his East Palo Alto home to his church, located at 2170 Capitol Ave., and has never had a problem at the intersection.

However, he said he thinks speed bumps should be installed because Myrtle Street is prone to speeding.

Anyone with information about the hit-and-run is asked to call East Palo Alto police at (650) 321-1112 or send an anonymous email to epa@tipnow.org. Anonymous texts and voicemails can be sent to (650) 409-6792.

 

Bay Area Communities Recieve Federal Grants for New Police Officers 


Oakland, East Palo Alto and Vallejo were among 39 California communities to receive nearly $20 million in federal grants to hire new police officers, the U.S. Department of Justice announced Tuesday.

As part of the 2013 Community Oriented Policing Services or "COPS" hiring program, the city of Oakland was awarded over $4.5 million to add up to 10 new officers to its police force, the highest amount given to any police agency this year, according to the justice department.

"This is a great day for the people of Oakland, who deserve and need a stronger police force," Mayor Jean Quan said in a statement.

Oakland was forced to lay off dozens of officers since 2008 due to budget cuts, and the Police Department has since worked to replenish its ranks through officer union concessions, federal grants and gradual re-hiring as the city's finances improved.

Oakland police Interim Chief Sean Whent said that a new class of police academy cadets is scheduled to graduate on Friday, only the second class to graduate in more than four years.

"The Oakland Police Department is thankful for the grant funds given to us by the federal government," Whent said.

Other Bay Area communities to receive funds through the 2013 COPS program were Alameda County, which received $2.2 million for eight sheriff's deputies, Vallejo, which received $1.06 million for four officers, and the cities of Hayward and East Palo Alto, which each received $250,000 for two new officers.

Communities that were awarded COPS hiring grants were selected based on fiscal need, local crime rates and community policing plans, according to the DOJ.

 

Woman Pleads Not Guilty in the Murder of a Monte Sereno Man


A woman charged along with two men in the murder of a wealthy Monte Sereno man pleaded not guilty Tuesday in Santa Clara County Superior Court and a judge set a preliminary hearing for Nov. 19.

With her not guilty plea, Katrina Fritz, 32, is the only one of the three defendants in the Nov. 30, 2012, murder and robbery of 66-year-old Raveesh Kumra to enter a plea.

Fritz's attorney argued that by entering her plea, Fritz had the legal right to request a preliminary hearing within only 10 days, but lawyers for her co-defendants said they needed more time to review evidence in the case.

Chris Givens, representing co-defendant Javier Garcia, told Judge Daniel Nishigaya that he had only received discovery documents Tuesday and that Garcia was not ready to plea to the charges.

Nishigaya set the preliminary hearing for the three defendants for Nov. 19 after Deputy District Attorney Kevin Smith said that the proceedings would take about three days.

Fritz, Garcia, 21, and Fritz's brother Deangelo Austin, 21, are charged with murder and robbery with special circumstances in the death of Kumra, a former winery owner.

Kumra died of asphyxiation after he was tied up and gagged during a late-night home invasion and robbery of cash and valuables in his home in Monte Sereno, prosecutors said.

The man's wife, Harinder Kumra, was also bound and beaten but was able to contact police after the robbery.

Prosecutors allege that Garcia and Austin carried out the robbery with the assistance of Fritz.

Cellphone records show Fritz and Austin were talking with one another during events at the Kumra home and that she continued to help her brother as he was wanted by Los Gatos-Monte Sereno police, according to prosecutors.

Garcia and Austin also are charged with false imprisonment and assault with a deadly weapon in the beating of Harinder Kumra with a blunt instrument, according to prosecutors.

The district attorney's office alleges that Austin is a member of "The Money Team," an Oakland-based street gang, and that Garcia is a member of another Oakland gang, "Ghost Town."

Fritz was among the prostitutes whom Kumra once hired and entertained at his home on Withey Road in Monte Sereno and in hotels in nearby Los Gatos, according to prosecutors.

The district attorney's office dropped charges against two other defendants in Kumra's murder, Raven Dixon and Lukis Anderson, in June.

 

Chevron and Contra Costa County Agree to End Property Tax Lawsuits

 
Contra Costa County supervisors unanimously approved an agreement with Chevron Tuesday that will put an end to property tax lawsuits against the county and should save the county millions of dollars and boost strained relations between the county and the oil giant.

The settlement agreement comes after nearly a decade of legal battles between the two entities over the taxable value of Chevron's Richmond refinery between the years 2004 and 2013. 

Under the agreement, the local refinery's taxable value for 2012 will drop from $3.87 billion to $3.28 billion, according to county documents.

Chevron also agreed to forgo an $8 million refund that would normally be awarded because of that decrease, relieving local agencies from having to repay the tax revenue, county administrators said.

The agreement came after 18 months of negotiations, which took a turn when a new round of Chevron staff came to the table and with retired Contra Costa County Superior Court Judge Coley Fannin mediating, according to county assessor Gus Kramer.

Kramer said the settlement was "tantamount to Galileo and the pope coming to an agreement on gravity."

"We've been light years apart...and there's been a lot of give and take, but I think it's going to be a good thing for the taxpayers of Contra Costa County," Kramer said.

Over the past decade, Chevron has sought hundreds of millions of dollars in tax refunds from the county, according to the company's own estimates. In 2009, it was awarded $17.8 million in property taxes paid for the years 2004 through 2006.

The company also has three pending separate court cases challenging the county's assessment of the refinery's taxable value, which it agreed to drop as part of the settlement.

"(Chevron) is waiving its claims to hundreds of millions of dollars in tax refunds and has agreed not to pursue its past tax appeals," oil company spokeswoman Melissa Ritchie said in a written statement.

"(Chevron) believes this process has fostered a better relationship with the county assessor and will help bring the assessed value for the Richmond refinery in line with other refineries in the Bay Area and the United States."

Ritchie said the settlement would also "bring greater fiscal stability to Contra Costa's local communities, including the city of Richmond, and will preserve funding for essential services and the county's schools."

The settlement does not prevent Chevron from filing future litigation against the county about the refinery's taxable value. However, the agreement holds that company representatives will meet with the county assessor's office each year to confer about the value.

 

New Oakland Bike Path Complete 

A new experimental bicycle pathway along 40th Street in Oakland aims to help drivers and bicyclists travel on the busy street.

The city's first green bicycle pathway was completed Saturday, running through the Piedmont Avenue commercial district, by the MacArthur BART station and into Emeryville.

A series of sharrows, or shared-lane bicycle markings, stretch along the road shared by motorists and bicyclists for eight-tenths of a mile, Bicycle and Pedestrian Project Manager Jason Patton said.

The path is part of the city's Bicycle Master Plan to increase bicycle access to BART stations, Patton said.

The pathway is broken into two segments starting from Webster Street to Telegraph Avenue with a brief break for an existing bicycle lane near state Highway 24 and then continuing from Martin Luther King Jr. Way to Adeline Street, Patton said.

According to the city's Public Works Agency many bicyclists travel along the "door zone" area where parked car doors open and the pathway would provide more clearance for motorists and bicyclists to share the roadway.

The city's Public Works Agency is overseeing the experimental pathway in partnership with the Federal Highway Administration and California Traffic Control Devices Committee.

Patton said the pathway is a non-standard traffic control device that needs to be regulated by state and federal agencies for consistency.

While the pathway is still experimental in nature, Dave Campbell, Advocacy Director at the East Bay Bicycle Coalition said he doesn't think it will work for the 40th Street corridor.

Speed limits should be between 20 to 25 mph for such a pathway, also referred to as a super sharrow, to work to accommodate the number of vehicles traveling on a street, Campbell said.

While the speed limit on 40th Street is set at 30 mph motorists tend to travel 40 to 50 mph while bicyclists travel at 12 to 15 mph, Campbell said.

Community members have notified the city's Public Works Agency of speed complaints and will continue collecting data on the pathway through October, Patton said.

They will be collecting information such as the number of bicyclists and speed of vehicles on the road, Patton said.

The city is looking to put more green bicycle pathways on city streets including Broadway between Grand Avenue and 25th Street, Patton said.

Anyone who would like to comment on the bicycle pathway can send an email to bikeped@oaklandnet.com.

 

Man Taken in for Psychiatric Evaluation After Two Disruptive Public Outbursts 


A man who threw concrete and bricks at police while on a building's ledge in San Francisco's Financial District on Monday afternoon is the same person who stood atop a signpost for hours last week, police said Tuesday.

The man was taken to San Francisco General Hospital for psychiatric evaluation early Tuesday morning after the incident began around 3 p.m. Monday, according to police spokesman Officer Gordon Shyy.

Police responded to a report of a shirtless man on the promenade at Four Embarcadero Center on Drumm Street. When the officers made contact with the man, who was wielding a knife, he immediately hopped onto the ledge of the building and threatened to jump, police said.

During a standoff, the man vandalized a large window on the building and also threw concrete chunks and bricks at officers below, according to police.

Police negotiators were eventually able to convince the man to come off the ledge and took him into custody at about 12:15 a.m., Shyy said.

The man, whose name is not immediately being released, is in his mid 20s and is a Bay Area resident.

Shyy said he is the same man that stood atop a "Do not enter" sign on Drumm Street between Clay and Sacramento streets starting around 10 a.m. Friday.

Police shut down the street until the man eventually came down around 2 p.m. During that incident he had also taken off his clothing.

Shyy said he had been taken to San Francisco General Hospital on Friday and was not arrested after he underwent a psychiatric evaluation.

He remained at San Francisco General Hospital for further mental evaluation Tuesday afternoon, Shyy said.

Upon his release he faces charges that include assault with a deadly weapon, vandalism, trespassing and brandishing a knife, according to Shyy.

 

Van Ness Imporvement Plans Approved


Plans to make over San Francisco's Van Ness Avenue with a bus rapid transit project were approved Tuesday afternoon, a transportation agency spokesman said.

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency board of directors unanimously approved the project that is estimated to cost about $125 million and be completed by spring 2018, spokesman Paul Rose said.

Under the proposal, two lanes in both directions on Van Ness between Mission and Lombard streets will become dedicated bus lanes.

The separated lanes will be used by the 47-Van Ness and 49-Van Ness/Mission Muni bus routes and Golden Gate Transit buses.

The lanes will run in the middle of the thoroughfare with landscaped medians where passengers will board. The outer lanes in both directions will be used by other motorists.

There will be 10 bus stops in the northbound direction and nine for southbound passengers, Rose said.

Transportation officials hope the bus-only lanes will expedite travel time by eliminating left-turning slowdowns and giving traffic signal priority to buses.

There will also be pedestrian improvements, signal upgrades, new streetlights, and new landscaping and roadway resurfacing, according to the plan.

The road-to-sidewalk ratio of the corridor will not change under the proposal.

Transit officials are expecting various improvements along the corridor after the changes, including buses running 30 percent faster and an increase of passenger capacity for Muni bus routes.

The buses will be switched to longer vehicles with bigger capacity, and both Muni routes will run every seven and a half minutes, which is a more frequent pace, Muni officials said.

The corridor operates as U.S. Highway 101 through the city, therefore Caltrans was required to review the plans and approved the project earlier this month.

The San Francisco County Transportation Authority, which consists of the city's Board of Supervisors, approved the transit plan last week.

The next step is approval from the Federal Transit Administration, which will review the environmental impact of the project and will approve federal funding.

About $75 million is slated to come from a federal program, $36 million from a city sales tax and the remaining $14 million from other local, regional and state sources.

Construction on the project is expected to start in winter 2015.

 

Wells Fargo Financial Advisor Pleads Guilty 


A financial advisor who formerly worked for Morgan Stanley & Co. and then Wells Fargo Advisors has admitted in federal court in San Francisco to forging an elderly widow's name to $1.8 million worth of checks, prosecutors announced Tuesday.

U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag said Adorean Boleancu, 47, of Napa, admitted during a guilty plea on Friday to having signed his client's name, without her authorization or knowledge, to $1.8 million worth of checks drawn on her brokerage account and home equity lines of credit.

Haag said Boleancu admitted he wrote the checks for his personal benefit and made them payable to his family members, his girlfriend, another female acquaintance, cash, and financial companies where he had credit card accounts.

Boleancu pleaded guilty during the court session before U.S. District Judge Richard Seeborg to one count of wire fraud committed in 2009.

He was originally charged in a federal grand jury indictment in July with a total of 27 counts of bank fraud, wire fraud, money laundering and aggravated identity theft allegedly carried out between 2007 and 2010.

The plea averts a trial that was scheduled to begin Sept. 23.

Boleancu will be sentenced by Seeborg on Dec. 17.

The wire fraud conviction carries a possible maximum sentence of 30 years in prison, plus a $1 million fine and restitution to the victim. Seeborg is expected to consider federal sentencing guidelines when determining the penalty, however.

Boleancu worked as a vice president and financial advisor for Morgan Stanley & Co. from 2004 to 2008, and as a vice president for Wells Fargo Advisors, a subsidiary of San Francisco-based Wells Fargo & Co., from 2008 to 2011, according to the indictment.

The now-83-year-old widow was his client at both institutions between 2007 and 2011, the indictment said.

In a separate civil proceeding, Boleancu agreed in March to a settlement with a private regulatory agency, the Washington, D.C.,-based Financial Industry Regulatory Authority.

The settlement required him to pay the widow $650,000 in restitution for money allegedly taken from her through checks drawn on her home equity lines between 2008 and 2010.

The settlement document said Boleancu accepted, but did not admit or deny, the agency's findings.

The widow was "an inexperienced and unsophisticated investor" who relied on Boleancu's professional advice and experience, the settlement said.

 

 

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Weather Forecast For The San Francisco Bay Area

Sunny skies are expected in the Bay Area this morning. Highs are likely to be in the lower 60s to mid 70s, with westerly winds up to 20 mph in the afternoon.

Clear skies are expected this evening. Lows are likely to be in the upper 50s, with westerly winds up to 20 mph.

Sunny skies are likely Thursday morning. Highs are expected to be in the lower 60s to mid 70s, with winds up to 20 mph in the afternoon.

 

 

 

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Brush Fire Blocks Lanes of Southbound Highway 101

Emergency crews are battling a brush fire that is blocking lanes of southbound U.S. Highway 101 in San Francisco this morning, according to the California Highway Patrol.

The CHP received a report of a brush fire on U.S. Highway 101 at Cesar Chavez Street shortly before 1:40 a.m.

A Sigalert was issued at about 2:05 a.m. due to lanes blocked by emergency crews.

 

 

 

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Thursday Midday News Roundup

SF Judge Declines To Issue Injuction Blocking Richmond's Eminent Domain Plan

A federal judge today rejected a request by Wells Fargo and Deutsche Bank to issue a preliminary injunction blocking the potential implementation of a plan by the city of Richmond to use eminent domain to force the sale of more than 600 underwater mortgages.

U.S. District Court Judge Charles Breyer ruled that the city's legislative process for approving the proposal is not yet complete, so it would be premature to issue an injunction.

"It's better for a court to not rule ... unless it appears this eminent domain process is essentially imminent," Breyer said at this morning's hearing in San Francisco.

Richmond is partnering with the investment firm Mortgage Resolution Partners in a plan to buy 624 mortgages to modify the loans and provide homeowners with more affordable payments.

The plan is meant to prevent foreclosures in a city where about half of its homeowners are underwater on their mortgages, meaning the homeowners owe more money than the home's current value.

Richmond recently sent letters to lenders and said that if their offers weren't accepted, the city would use its municipal power of eminent domain to force the sale of the mortgages.

However, the lawsuit filed last month by international law firm Ropes and Gray, LLP, on behalf of the two banks representing the bond investors holding the mortgages, argues that the use of eminent domain is unconstitutional.

Eminent domain is typically used to purchase private land for public use like infrastructure or parks.

John Ertman, an attorney with the firm, told the judge today that the Richmond City Council meeting Tuesday night on the proposal represented "a significant development in this case."

Ertman said the council addressed eminent domain at length at the meeting and voted 5-2 to reject a motion to scrap the plan to use it.

Scott Kronland, an attorney representing the city, told the judge that the banks' request was "like challenging immigration reform legislation before Congress adopted it."

Breyer agreed and declined to immediately issue the preliminary injunction, but gave both sides the opportunity to file briefs by Friday on whether the motion for the injunction should be dismissed or stayed.

He said he would then make his formal ruling on Monday.

Kronland said the judge should dismiss the motion because Richmond is seeking other cities to join it in a joint powers authority for the plan.

"Having the case out there is an interference with the political process and other cities would be hesitant to join," he said.

So far, the Southern California city of El Monte has expressed interest in joining Richmond, city officials said.

Richmond Mayor Gayle McLaughlin attended this morning's hearing and called the judge's decision not to grant a preliminary injunction "a great victory for us."

McLaughlin also rejected the banks' assertion that the injunction was necessary because the city was trying to quickly pass the legislation.

"We're taking this step-by-step in a very careful, conscientious way," she said.

 

Oracle Drops Bay Area Native From Crew As America's Cup Finals Continue

Defending champion Oracle Team USA today dropped a Bay Area native from its sailing crew as the team tries to find a way to come back from a large deficit in the America's Cup Finals, which resumes this afternoon in San Francisco.

Tactician John Kostecki, who grew up in San Rafael and has years of experience sailing on the Bay, was dropped from Oracle's racing crew after making perceived tactical errors.

Four-time Olympic gold medalist Ben Ainslie will replace Kostecki as the sixth race begins at 1:15 p.m. today.

Emirates Team New Zealand is leading Oracle by a score of 4 to negative-1 in the finals.

Oracle was docked two points by the regatta's International Jury before the racing began for making illegal modifications to its boats during exhibition races in 2012 and earlier this year.

It has since won one race in the finals.

The New Zealand team needs to win just five more races to become the new America's Cup champions, while Oracle needs to win twice that number to retain the Cup.

Oracle used its only "postponement card" to regroup after losing the fifth race of the finals on Tuesday, and is hoping the replacement of Kostecki with Ainslie will help get them back on the winning side.

The team has struggled on the lone upwind leg of the race course, losing an average of 48 seconds to the New Zealand team on that portion.

"We can win these races," Oracle team skipper Jimmy Spithill said.

"We just need to be very, very smart about how we go about it and we have to sail our boat well."

The two teams are scheduled to race a second time today at 2:15 p.m., with more races scheduled on Saturday and Sunday.

More information about the races can be found online at www.americascup.com.

 

Joint Vigil Being Held Saturday By Families Of Five Men Who Went Missing In SF

Five families whose young adult sons have gone missing in San Francisco over the past few years are holding a joint vigil in the city's Golden Gate Park this weekend to call attention to the cases.

The families of Sean Sidi, 19, Crishtian Hughes, 20, Shawn Dickerson, 24, Cameron Remmer, 31, and Jackson Miller, 23, are all gathering at the park's Music Concourse for the vigil at 2 p.m. Saturday.

Lynn Ching, the mother of Sidi, said the vigil is meant to raise awareness about the five cases and highlight the struggles the families face in getting assistance from law enforcement.

Ching said cases involving missing men often get less attention -- from both police and the public -- than cases involving missing women.

"Most of them, people don't know they're missing," she said.

Ching said another problem many families face is that if the missing person lived outside San Francisco, their case will be sent to the law enforcement agency with jurisdiction over that residence, even if it's thousands of miles away.

"It leaves the families in a bind," she said.

Ching's son Sidi went missing this past May, while Hughes went missing in February, Dickerson went missing in December 2011, Remmer went missing in October 2011 and Miller went missing in May 2010.

San Francisco police were not immediately available to comment on the status of the five cases.

 

Passengers Facing Up To 1 Hour Delars For Arriving Flights

Passengers flying to and from San Francisco International Airport today can expect some delays until early this afternoon, an airport duty manager said.

A weather-related ground delay program is in effect at the airport until 1 p.m., duty manager Larry Mares said.

Delays for arriving short-haul flights are between 30 minutes and an hour, he said.

The delayed arriving flights are pushing back some departure times, he said.

There have also been a few canceled Southwest Airlines flights this morning, he said.

 

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