San Francisco Bay Area Thursday Midday News Roundup

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SFO Braces For Bad Weather On Busiest Travel Day Of Season

San Francisco International Airport is about to get a lot busier, with the heaviest travel day of the holiday season coming up Friday.

An estimated 130,000 passengers are expected to pass through SFO that day, and more than 2 million holiday travelers are expected to use the airport between today and Jan. 6, SFO spokesman Doug Yakel said.

Snow and turbulent winter weather in the Midwest today was already causing flights delays between the Bay Area and Chicago, SFO duty manager Linda Perry said this morning.

Rain is expected to move into the Bay Area tonight and Friday morning, potentially complicating travel plans for anyone flying out of SFO, according to the National Weather Service.

As always, passengers are advised to check the status of their flights before heading to the airport. Travelers are also encouraged to leave at least 90 minutes to check in and pass through security for domestic flights, and up to two hours for international travel.

Passengers should not wrap gifts, in case security officers need to inspect packages in carry-on luggage, according to the Transportation Security Administration.

Detailed information on the latest security rules can be found online at www.tsa.gov.

Updated travel conditions at SFO and airports around the country is provided by the Federal Aviation Administration at www.fly.faa.gov.

Two New BART Directors Sworn In

Two new BART directors were sworn in today, and the BART board also elected a new president and vice president.

Zakhary Mallett, who represents District 7, has the distinction of having two firsts: The 25-year-old El Sobrante man is believed to be the youngest director in BART's history and is the first East Bay resident to represent the district.

The snakelike district includes parts of San Francisco, Alameda and Contra Costa counties and encompasses at least part of a number of cities including Oakland, Berkeley, Emeryville, Albany, El Cerrito, Richmond and Pinole.

Until now, the district has always been represented by a San Francisco resident.

Mallett said one of his priorities is to explore the feasibility of building a new BART station in the East Bay that would serve the cities of San Pablo, Pinole and Hercules and relieve traffic on the congested Interstate Highway 80 corridor.

He said he also wants to make sure that the BART system is "in a state of good repair" so that it can continue to meet the growing demand for its service.

Rebecca Saltzman, a transportation and environmental advocate who represents District 3 -- which includes parts of Oakland, Berkeley, Orinda, Lafayette and other cities -- said her top priority also is keeping BART running smoothly.

After Mallett and Saltzman were sworn in, the board elected director Tom Radulovich of San Francisco as its president and Joel Keller of Brentwood to be its new vice president.

Keller said BART needs to make sure it raises enough money to pay for its long-term capital needs, which he said are at least $7.5 billion.

He said one way to accomplish that goal is to get state leaders to lower the two-thirds threshold currently needed to pass bond measures that benefit transit agencies and other governmental entities.

"The two-thirds threshold is such a high burden that even balanced measures have a tough time passing," Keller said.

He said the threshold should be lowered to as low as 51 percent.

Woman Struck By Car Near Lake Merritt BART Station

A woman is in critical condition after being struck by a car near the Lake Merritt BART station in Oakland this morning, police said.

Officers responded to a report of a car accident in the area of Seventh and Madison streets, a block from the Lake Merritt station, at about 7:35 a.m., Officer K. Quintela said.

The woman, whose age is unknown, was transported to a hospital with life-threatening injuries, Quintela said.

Quintela said the driver stayed at the scene and cooperated with officers.

As of 9 a.m., officers were still processing the scene. Police are advising drivers to avoid the area.
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San Francisco Superior Court Presiding Judge Katherine Feinstein has announced that she is retiring from the bench.

Feinstein, 55, the daughter of Sen. Dianne Feinstein, has served as a judge with the court for more than 12 years, including the last two as presiding judge. Her retirement is effective Feb. 1, 2013, court officials said.

"As I near the end of my two-year term as presiding judge, now is a good time for a transition," Feinstein said in a statement. "I have no specific plans. However, I look forward to serving the public, as I have throughout my legal career, but in a new and different capacity."

She was appointed to the Superior Court by Gov. Gray Davis in 2000.

Previously, Feinstein worked as a deputy city attorney, and also has experience as an assistant district attorney and member of a private law firm. She is a former San Francisco police commissioner and has served as director of the mayor's Criminal Justice Council.

Judge Cynthia Ming-mei Lee, whose two-year term as presiding judge will begin on Jan. 1, said of Feinstein, "She led our court during financially turbulent times and did so with unswerving courage, dignity and dedication."

San Francisco police Chief Greg Suhr said Feinstein "has always been there at every turn to make the city a better safer place through her caring for the less fortunate who can't care for themselves. She is just the most gracious of ladies and the city of San Francisco will miss her."

Firefighter Suffers Smoke Inhalation While Battling Oceanview Fire

A firefighter was taken to a hospital to be treated for smoke inhalation after battling a two-alarm fire at an apartment building in San Francisco's Oceanview neighborhood this morning, a fire official said.

The fire department received reports of a fire on the second floor of a three-story building at 119 Broad St., between Capitol and Plymouth avenues, at 5:31 a.m.

Twenty-five residents were evacuated before the blaze was controlled at 6:14 a.m., fire officials said.

No injuries were reported, and the cause of the fire remains under investigation.

The American Red Cross responded to the scene to assist displaced residents.

The fire disrupted service on San Francisco Municipal Railway's M-Ocean View line.

Slain Concord High School Football Player To Be Honored With On-Campus Vigil

A Concord High School football player who was fatally shot in San Francisco's Bayview District Saturday night will be remembered at a memorial event and candlelight vigil on Friday.

Montreal Blakely, 17, was killed in a shooting around 10 p.m. Saturday while walking in the first block of Osceola Lane in San Francisco, according to police.

Police this week said that no arrests have been made in connection with the fatal shooting.

Blakely's coaches described the teen as a friendly, conscientious person who excelled both in class and on the football field.

Students at Concord High honored their fallen classmate this week by wearing black to school on Monday.

"While there is never a good time to lose a son, a brother, a teammate or a friend, losing a loved one so close to Christmas is especially difficult for all," said Brian Hamilton, one of Blakely's coaches.

Classmates this week also decorated Christmas ornaments with Blakely's football jersey No. 9. The students will sell the crafts after school on Friday to help offset funeral costs for Blakely's family.

"The kids have been really committed to making sure people know this was an incredible man with an incredibly bright future in front of him," Hamilton said. "He had a special place in our hearts."

Students will be at Concord High at 5 p.m. Friday to sell ornaments and to donate Christmas trees to needy families, Hamilton said. At 7 p.m., the coach and some of Blakely's friends are scheduled to speak in the school's gym, followed by a short video and a candlelight vigil on the school's football field.

Donations can be made to the Blakely family at Friday's event or online at chsminutemenfootball.com by clicking on the "Donate" link.

Japanese Vice Consul Pleads No Contest To Domestic Violence

A Japanese diplomat living in San Bruno pleaded no contest in San Mateo County Superior Court today to two counts of domestic violence.

Yoshiaki Nagaya, 33, wore a black suit and a light blue tie when he entered his plea through a Japanese interpreter.

Nagaya, a vice consul for Japan stationed in San Francisco, had been accused of committing "constant acts of violence" against his ex-wife during their 18-month marriage, District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said.

According to prosecutors, Nagaya allegedly stabbed his wife in the hand with a screwdriver, knocked her tooth out during a separate assault, and kicked her multiple times.

Nagaya's wife, who is much smaller in stature than her former husband, photographed her injuries after each attack, Wagstaffe said.

In March, the victim approached police and claimed that Nagaya had pushed her out of a car in the parking garage of their San Bruno apartment complex, Wagstaffe said.

Investigators were unable to substantiate the accusation, and questions about the wife's credibility prompted the district attorney's office to drop all but two of the charges against Nagay, which ranged from assault with a deadly weapon to spousal assault, Wagstaffe said.

Nagaya's plea of no contest to the two remaining felony charges of domestic violence could bring a sentence ranging from a year in jail to five years in prison, according to the district attorney's office.

Judge Craig Parsons is scheduled to sentence Nagaya on Feb. 4 at the Hall of Justice in Redwood City.

Crash In Front Of Livermore Post Office Sends Man To Hospital, Closes Road

A street in Livermore is closed to traffic as police investigate a crash that sent one person to a hospital, a police sergeant said.

Police responded to a report of a collision involving two cars in the 200 block of South Livermore Avenue at 10:21 a.m., Sgt. John Hurd said.

A motorist rear-ended another car in front of the post office, Hurd said.

He was transported to a hospital to be treated for injuries not considered life-threatening, the sergeant said.

The person driving the car that was rear-ended was not injured.

The collision occurred in a 25 mph zone and Hurd said the cars were likely driving within the speed limit.

South Livermore Avenue will remain closed in the area of the collision until around 1 p.m. as officers investigate the incident, Hurd said.

One Novato Burglary Suspect Arrested, Second Sought After

Novato police have arrested one person in connection with a residential burglary that occurred Wednesday and are looking for a second suspect, a police sergeant said.

The burglary was reported at 10:30 a.m. in the 200 block of San Luis Way. Responding officers saw two males fleeing the area, Sgt. Dan Jenner said.

One of them, identified as Cody Lawson, 20, of Novato, was caught in the backyard of a nearby home, Jenner said.

The second suspect eluded authorities despite an extensive search by Novato police, the California Highway Patrol and Marin County Sheriff's Office, Jenner said. He was still at large this morning.

Lawson was arrested on suspicion of burglary, resisting arrest, trespassing, possession of stolen property and a probation violation, Jenner said.

Police are identifying the owners of the stolen property they recovered from Lawson, and are trying to determine if the two suspects are responsible for other burglaries in the area, Jenner said.

Yankees Pitcher CC Sabathia Spreading Bay Area Holiday Cheer

New York Yankees pitcher and Vallejo native CC Sabathia is in the Bay Area today bringing holiday cheer to children, teens and seniors during his annual Christmas Caravan.

He was at the Florence Douglas Senior Center in Vallejo this morning, where he donated chairs, a pool table, flat-screen TV, and other items worth $10,000 for the center's recreation room and lending library, the center's executive director Vicki Conrad said this morning.

"It's awesome we were included in the Christmas Caravan this year. 

It's wonderful how he gives back to the community," Conrad said.

The senior center, located at 333 Amador St., provides a host of services to about 2,200 seniors each month, Conrad said.

Sabathia is also hosting a bowling event for at-risk teens at the Mission Bowling Club on 17th Street in San Francisco, and will then take the teens on a shopping trip to Niketown.

Sabathia is used to throwing strikes from the mound for the Yankees, but he may or not throw any at the bowling alley today.

During the off-season, he had surgery to repair a bone spur in his left elbow -- his throwing arm.

He told media in New York this week that he will begin throwing again after Christmas and that his range of motion is back.

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