San Francisco Bay Area Thursday Morning News Roundup

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SF: Obama Departs Airport, Begins Short Bay Area Fundraising Trip

President Barack Obama arrived at San Francisco International Airport Wednesday evening for a quick fundraising trip to the Bay Area.

The president touched down at SFO at 5:30 p.m.

Obama attended two events Wednesday evening in San Francisco to raise money for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, followed by two events today in Atherton on behalf of the Democratic National Committee before departing on Air Force One.

Wednesday night the president headed to a cocktail reception at the Pacific Heights home of billionaire and former hedge fund manager Tom Steyer and Kat Taylor.

He then attended a dinner at the nearby home of philanthropists Ann and Gordon Getty.

The events were to raise money for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Today, Obama will be on the Peninsula for two fundraisers to benefit the Democratic National Committee.

The first will be a $32,000-a-head brunch at the Atherton home of Liz Simons and Mark Heising.

The president will then visit the home of Marcia and John Goldman.

The cheapest tickets to that event cost $1,000. Activists opposing the Keystone XL pipeline, including the Raging Grannies, will also be in Atherton today, and plan to hold an 8:15 a.m. rally on Valparaiso Avenue, near Alameda de las Pulgas.

Other local groups have been holding rallies around the Bay Area this week to pressure Congress and Obama to push through a comprehensive immigration reform package.

Obama will take off from SFO this afternoon.

The president was last in the Bay Area during his re-election campaign in October.

SF: Hundreds Gather to Protest Outside Obama Fundraiser

Hundreds of protesters touting various causes gathered Wednesday evening a block away from a mansion in San Francisco's Pacific Heights neighborhood where President Barack Obama attended a Democratic fundraiser.

The crowd filled the intersection of Pacific and Baker streets, a block away from the home of philanthropists Ann and Gordon Getty, who hosted Obama in a fundraising dinner for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

The largest group of protesters were shouting in opposition to Keystone XL, a proposed pipeline across the Midwest that would transport oil from tar sands in Canada.

"The legacy of his presidency is at stake with this question of whether he's going to approve or reject the Keystone XL pipeline," said Becky Bond, political director of CREDO, one of the environmental groups organizing the protest.

"This is something he doesn't have to face every day in Washington, D.C., so this is our chance to deliver a message to him loud and clear," Bond said.

The environmental groups even came with a marching band that played music while the crowd chanted "Hey Obama, we don't want no pipeline drama!"

One anti-war group came carrying a large mock drone to show their opposition to the use of the unmanned aircraft in war zones.

"Thousands of people have already been murdered by these drones," said Stephanie Tang, an organizer with the group World Can't Wait. "It's mass murder from the skies."

The group also brought people wearing fake orange prison jumpsuits in solidarity with Guantanamo Bay prisoners.

"We're here to demand that our government not let these people die," Tang said.

"They should be released and Guantanamo should be closed."

The protesters then marched a few blocks away to Broadway and Divisadero Street, where some of Wednesday night's dinner attendees were arriving in their vehicles.

Dozens of police officers lined the streets to ensure the vehicles had a clear path into the event.

Oakland:  Officer Shoots Armed Robbery Suspect Downtown Wednesday Night

A police officer shot an armed robbery suspect in downtown Oakland Wednesday night. Officers received a report of an armed robbery of a person in the 1000 block of Clay Street at about 9:50 p.m.

Witnesses described to police the three suspects seen fleeing from the scene. Officers attempted to detain three subjects in the 1000 block of Jefferson Street, near Lafayette Square.

One of the officers discharged their firearm causing an injury to one of the subjects.

The injury is not considered to be life threatening, police said.

The injured subject was transported to a local hospital for medical treatment.

The officer did not sustain any injuries, according to police. The Oakland Police Department's Major Crimes Unit and Internal Affairs Division have started independent investigations into the officer-involved shooting.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Oakland police at (510) 238-3821.

SF: Feinstein Says She Won't Quit On Fight to Ban Assault Weapons

U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., told a San Francisco audience Wednesday that her fight to ban assault weapons is a lifetime cause that she'll continue even if her proposed law doesn't pass the current Congress.

"I don't quit," Feinstein told an audience of 500 at a noontime Commonwealth Club event at the Hotel Nikko in downtown San Francisco.

"If I can't do it this time, I'll do it next time. I intend to fight this fight," she said.

Feinstein told the audience, "My reaction was stark horror" when she heard of gunman Adam Lanza's massacre of 20 first-graders and six adults with a semi-automatic rifle at a Connecticut school in December.

"To take six- and seven-year-olds and kill them like this is something I never thought I would see in this country," she said.

In 1994, Feinstein was the author of a federal assault weapons ban, which expired in 2004.

In January, she introduced a new proposed ban, which would prohibit the sale, manufacture or importation of 157 types of semi-automatic assault weapons, while allowing 2,200 other guns used in hunting, recreation and defense.

Last month, however, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, announced he was not going to include the ban in a gun control measure he will bring to the Senate floor because it was not expected to get the 60 votes needed to overcome a Republican filibuster.

But Reid told Feinstein she could offer the ban as an amendment to the other measures. She said Wednesday she plans to do that and if necessary to continue her quest in the future.

Feinstein, 79, was president of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and was at City Hall when former Supervisor Dan White fatally shot Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk on Nov. 27, 1978.

She was the first to discover Milk's body and identified both victims for police.

"I have seen death up close and personal.

It isn't like what you see on television," she commented.

As Board of Supervisors president, Feinstein succeeded to the office of mayor after the assassinations and remained in that position until 1988.

She was first elected senator to fill a vacancy in 1992 and has been re-elected three times, most recently in November.

Feinstein said campaigning by the National Rifle Association caused several legislators who supported the 1994 ban to be voted out of office, and said she thinks some members of the current Congress are intimidated by the threat of similar retaliation.

"Members fear that if they vote for the bill they won't be re-elected," she said. "My view is they shouldn't go up to the Senate if they are unwilling to stand up and vote," she said.

Regional: Man Wanted After Salinas Standoff Monday Surrenders in Morgan Hill

A man who eluded police as they prepared for a standoff Monday in Salinas turned himself in to Morgan Hill police Wednesday hours after a woman reported he robbed her, a Salinas police spokesman said.

Family members of Delbert Robles, 27, accompanied him to the Morgan Hill Police Department where he surrendered at about 1:30 p.m., Salinas police spokesman Miguel Cabrera said.

Robles, whose relatives living in Morgan Hill apparently convinced him to give up, was being transported to Salinas to be arrested in connection with the police standoff and Wednesday's robbery, Cabrera said.

Police planned to arrest Robles on suspicion of brandishing a gun, trespassing and violating probation in the standoff and on the armed robbery reported early Wednesday morning.

The Monday standoff started at about 10:15 a.m. at a home at 45 Sherwood Drive in Salinas where Robles used to reside with his father, who recently moved out, Cabrera said.

Robles allegedly entered the home, confronted some workers who were performing renovations, told them he was the tenant and brandished a handgun at them, Cabrera said.

The workers left the home and called police, who arrived and began setting up a perimeter to secure the neighborhood after witnesses reported seeing Robles shut the front door and draw the drapes closed, Cabrera said.

During the standoff that lasted nearly nine hours, police remained outside, brought in SWAT officers, used negotiators on loudspeakers, then launched a flash and bang explosive and finally tear gas into the home.

When SWAT officers forced their way in at 8 p.m., Robles was not there, leaving police to conclude he escaped through a back or side door just as officers were setting up the perimeter, Cabrera said.

Then Wednesday a woman told police that while waiting for a ride to work at 4:25 a.m. in the 900 block of Chamise Drive in Salinas, a man approached whom she said she recognized as Robles from news media coverage of Monday's standoff, Cabrera said.

The man demanded money, displayed a knife in the waistband of his pants and appeared to threaten to grab the knife, Cabrera said.

The victim handed over her money and the suspect then forcefully took her cellphone away, but when the woman's ride arrived, he threw the phone down and fled on foot, Cabrera said.

Officers combed the area but were unable to locate the suspect.

Oakland: Two Ex-Cons Will Stand Trial for Murder of Rapper

Two ex-convicts, including one who temporarily escaped from custody in January, were ordered to stand trial Wednesday on charges that they murdered rapper Brondon McDaniel in East Oakland in February 2012 in a dispute over money from a tax fraud scheme.

Alameda County Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Horner ruled at the end of a preliminary hearing that spanned parts of four days that prosecutors produced sufficient evidence to connect Anthony Hoskins, 31, and Ezell Edwards, 24, to the shooting death of McDaniel, 30, whose rap name was "Thudda Boy," in the 400 block of 105th Avenue on Feb. 4, 2012.

In addition to ordering Hoskins and Edwards to stand trial for murder, Horner also ordered them to face charges of being felons in possession of firearms and with having prior felony convictions, which could add to their sentences if they are convicted.

Hoskins had been in custody at the Santa Rita Jail in Dublin since March 2012 on charges that he committed multiple robberies in Oakland and Fremont, but he escaped on Jan. 11 when a deputy drove him to Highland Hospital for a routine medical appointment.

Sheriff's spokesman Sgt. J.D. Nelson said that while the deputy was driving Hoskins to the hospital, Hoskins was able to manipulate his leg irons and his waist and hand restraints and when he arrived at the hospital he ran away.

However, authorities were able to trace Hoskins to Sparks, Nev., where they arrested him on Feb. 13, after he'd been on the run for more than a month.

Prosecutor Joseph Goethals presented evidence at the hearing that Edwards and Hoskins killed McDaniel because Edwards and his ex-girlfriend were upset at McDaniel because they had been involved in a tax fraud scheme with him but he had filed paperwork to get a tax refund that they believed should have gone to Edwards' girlfriend.

Goethals said in his brief summation of his case that Edwards' girlfriend, who later broke up with him, provided important evidence to the prosecution by telling authorities that Edwards and Hoskins told her shortly after the incident that they had carried out the shooting and laughed about it.

He said he believes Edwards and Hoskins both shot McDaniel because shell casings were found at the scene from two different guns, one a .40-caliber and the other a .45-caliber.

But defense attorneys Barbara Thomas, who represents Edwards, and Darryl Billups, who represents Hoskins, both said the prosecution failed to produce credible evidence because it relied on testimony from Edwards' ex-girlfriend and a jailhouse informant, alleging that they had motives to lie.

Billups said Edwards' ex-girlfriend "seems to be the un-indicted co-conspirator in this case and seems to be the catalyst" for the shooting because she was "a woman scorned who is trying to get back at everybody."

SJ: Rep. Honda Lobbying U.S. Senators in 'Gang of 8' for Immigrant Policy Overhaul Bill 

U.S. Rep. Mike Honda said in San Jose Wednesday he is lobbying key U.S. senators on a pending immigration reform bill in Congress that would offer a path to citizenship and keep immigrant families together Honda (D-San Jose) said he and other immigrants rights advocates met recently in Washington with three Republican members of the "Gang of 8" group of senators who are close to completing a comprehensive immigration bill.

"The Senate bill will be drafted sometime in the next couple of weeks but the ensuing path and details are really very unclear," said Honda at a news conference by reform advocates outside San Jose City Hall at 200 E. Santa Clara St.

"My role is to keep the issue on the forefront, put pressure on senators to make sure the package has the right priorities and ensure that a deal is struck," he said.

Honda, who chairs the Congressional Progressive Caucus Immigration Task Force, said he favors overhauling immigration policy including a fair route to citizenship for undocumented immigrants and allowing immigrant family members, including those of same-sex unions, to remain in the United States.

The labor group AFL-CIO and business leaders led by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce have agreed on a worker visa program with a roadmap to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants, which Honda described as "a landmark agreement."

Another part of the Senate legislation would help children born of immigrant parents who turn 21 years old and "age out" while their parents are seeking a green card, requiring the children to apply all over again for a card which can take years to obtain.

"The Senate is apparently working on a waiver process so they can reapply and keep the original priority day and this is a big thing," Honda said.

Honda introduced the Reuniting Families Act, HR 717, in February which would allow 480,000 new family-sponsored immigrants into the United States, and in March introduced HR 1258 to provide $200 million a year to fund English and U.S. history instruction for new immigrants.

"The progressive advocates will not get all the deals that they want in this (Senate) bill but we will continue to advocate for all (their) principles," Honda said.

San Carlos: Public Meeting Draws Group to Plead For Bus Service

A public hearing on service cuts and modifications to SamTrans busses along the Peninsula brought a standing-room only crowd together Wednesday to plead with commissioners to keep their bus routes running.

Nearly 50 community members packed the San Carlos SamTrans Headquarters to respond to the draft SamTrans Service Plan, or SSP, a strategy aimed at improving bus service efficiency, effectiveness and usage and modifying or discontinuing unused or underutilized bus routes.

The first comprehensive study done by the agency in more than 10 years, SamTrans' planning and development teams spent more than two years studying ridership patterns to determine some methods to increase ridership and revenues while bettering service to San Mateo County communities, according to April Chan, executive officer for planning and development, who presented the plan at the hearing.

Throughout the two-year process, planners have received more than 1,300 comments from the public, most of which were incorporated into the latest versions of the plan.

"The plan is very comprehensive and reflective of a pretty large amount of community feedback," said Jayme Ackemann, SamTrans communications manager.

"This has been a highly iterative process and we have come up with new recommendations and their comments effected change." SamTrans currently operates 48 bus routes throughout San Mateo County, with service to the cities of Palo Alto and San Francisco.

The SSP would make changes to the existing bus service in several ways, Chan said Wednesday. The SSP aims to improve bus service along El Camino Real with improved service and frequency along the "north-south spine" of the transit network, Chan said.

This would mean consolidating Routes 390 and 391, making it one route between Daly City and Palo Alto every 15 minutes.

The plan also calls for creating an enhanced core bus network by improving weekday service the core market areas of Daly City, South San Francisco, Redwood City and East Palo Alto to at least a 15-minute service and improve east-west connections to El Camino Real on weekends.

Some service routes will be modified, Chan said, if it falls into one of three categories: consolidating services, modifying routes or frequency, and a major reduction of service to downtown San Francisco, according to SSP documents.

Routes 123 in the North Bay, 280 in East Palo Alto and 359 along El Camino in the Central County are all recommended for discontinuation based on duplications with other routes, Chan said, although route 280 could receive a reprieve depending on the city's shuttle service.

Lastly, the plan calls for the introduction of alternative service pilot programs in San Carlos and Pacifica to test an alternative model with a flexible, demand-response service.

Bay Area Thursday Morning Weather Forecast

Rain is likely in the Bay Area this morning, with showers likely throughout the afternoon. Highs are expected to be around 60, with southern winds up to 20 mph.

Mostly cloudy skies are likely this evening, with a chance of showers. Lows are expected to be around 50, with southwest winds up to 20 mph.

Mostly cloudy skies are expected Friday morning. Highs are likely to be in the upper 50s, with westerly winds up to 15 mph.

 

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