San Francisco Bay Area Friday Morning News Roundup

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Santa Clara: 49ers Stadium Project Completes Steel Framing

A 300-foot crane lifted a pair of gold-painted steel beams Thursday to top out the highest point of the planned $1.2 billion Santa Clara stadium that one executive said would be a "software-driven" venue when the San Francisco 49ers start playing there in 2014. 

City officials, 49ers executives and hundreds of construction workers watched as the beams -- one holding an American flag, the other a Christmas tree -- were bolted into place to commemorate the completion of steel framing on the 1.85 million-square-foot stadium that broke ground in April.

Santa Clara Mayor Jamie Matthews and San Francisco 49ers Chief Executive Officer Jed York headlined the pre-topping ceremony, as the officials, executives and workers took turns using Sharpie felt pens to sign the beams.

"What a great day for history here in Santa Clara, a truly great project," Matthews said.

"We are going to keep working, we are looking forward to the next
milestone," York said. 

The stadium, to hold 68,500 fans, including 9,000 club seats and 165 luxury boxes, is now about 90 percent complete, with the concrete work, seating and other internal parts of the stadium to go before it's ready for the 49ers' pre-season games in 2014, York said.

The topping out is a milestone in the NFL team's move from its current home at aging Candlestick Park in San Francisco 45 miles south to Tasman Drive in Santa Clara, York said.

"This is going to be almost three times the size of Candlestick," York said. "We want to this to be the best outdoor entertainment experience."

York, noting the planned stadium's location within the Silicon Valley technology industry corridor, described ambitious plans for a "software-driven stadium," where fans use their smartphones during games for things like watching instant replays and making cashless payments for food and drinks at concession stands. 

"It's more than just building an app," York said. "It's watching plays from different camera angles from your phone, the (NFL game replay) RedZone channel on your screen, fantasy football. You want fans to choose. You want 60,000 different experiences in this stadium."

Oakland: Attorney Says Outside Oversight Of Police Department Is Needed

An agreement that calls for a compliance director to oversee the Oakland Police Department was needed because the department moved far too slowly in complying with reforms that were mandated nearly 10 years ago, an attorney for the plaintiffs in the case said Thursday.

James Chanin said he and co-counsel John Burris sought to have an outside person oversee the department because, "We got tired of waiting."

Chanin said the agreement reached on Wednesday after several weeks of negotiations includes conditions that make Oakland the first city in the U.S. that he knows of that would allow a court-appointed director to have the authority to demote or even fire its police command staff, including its police chief.

The Police Department was required to make a series of reforms, such as increased field supervision, better training and improved investigation of citizen complaints, as the result of the Jan. 22, 2003, settlement of a lawsuit filed by 119 Oakland citizens who alleged that four officers known as the "Riders" beat them, made false arrests and planted evidence on them in 2000.

The settlement also included payments of $10.5 million to the plaintiffs and their attorneys, Chanin and Burris. 

Chanin said Oakland officials promised to try to complete all the mandated reforms within five years and in a maximum of seven years but although the city has complied with many of the reforms it's still a long way from completing all of them.

Burris and Chanin had been seeking a federal takeover of the Police Department that would involve having a receiver oversee it, but Chanin said he's happy with the agreement reached Wednesday calling for a compliance director to oversee the department instead of a receiver.

Chanin said having a receiver oversee the department would have resulted in micro-management of it, would have been too expensive and would have excused the department's leadership from doing its job.

The agreement reached Wednesday must be approved by U.S. District Court Judge Thelton Henderson, who has been overseeing Oakland's compliance with the 2003 settlement.

Chanin said if Henderson approves the agreement, the judge would appoint a compliance director after getting input from the city and from the plaintiff's attorney.

He said the director would report directly to Henderson, would work full-time until the reforms are completed, would be independent of the city and would have the power to demote or fire the police command staff.

Oakland Mayor Jean Quan said in a prepared statement, "We're glad
to be working toward our common goals of accelerating compliance, improving
our crime-fighting efforts and bolstering relationships between the police
and the community."

SF: Public Health Officials Advise Gay Men About Recent NYC Meningitis Outbreak

San Francisco health officials this week are warning homosexual men about a recent uptick in meningitis cases in the gay community in New York City and are suggesting vaccination in some cases.

San Francisco's Department of Public Health on Monday issued a health advisory noting that there had been 12 cases of meningococcal disease among gay men in New York City in the past year, including three in the past six weeks.

The pattern prompted New York health officials last week to recommend vaccination for gay men who have had or plan to have intimate contact with other men they met through websites, smartphone apps, or at a bar or party.

There have been no recent cases in San Francisco, but health officials are asking those who plan to travel to New York City, or who have recently traveled there and had intimate contact with a partner, to discuss vaccination with their doctor.

Meningitis is an infection of the tissues surrounding the brain, spinal cord and blood that can lead to death, permanent brain damage or other long-term health problems.
The disease is transmitted via contact with spit, phlegm, mucus or other bodily fluids, often during intimate or sexual contact or by sneezing or coughing or sharing drinks or food with an infected person.

Regional: Local Air District Receives $1M Federal Grant To Encourage Alternative Fuel Use

The Bay Area Air Quality Management District has received a $1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to help more local companies and municipalities use alternative fuel for their vehicles and fleets.

The grant will go toward the California Fleets and Workplace Alternative Fuels Project, which aims to reduce barriers for companies and governments to use alternative fuel, such as issues with permitting, district spokesman Ralph Borrmann said.

The air district will be responsible for handling the grant and dividing the money up and dispensing it to partners that will provide service and support for fleets of vehicles, such as those used by cities, counties or businesses, director of strategic incentives at the district Damien Breen said.

"The core of the program is designed so that we're removing barriers for employers and fleets," he said. "So they can adopt these alternative fuel vehicles."

The grant, which serves partners throughout the state, will dedicate $300,000 to Bay Area cities, counties and businesses, Breen said. 

The project plans to provide workshops to introduce best practices to employers and fleet owners, along with safety training to first responders who will come across alternative fuel vehicles as part of their work.

The grant hopes to continue and expand use of alternative fuels, renewable fuels and other measures that reduce air pollution by providing streamlined information and support.

The grant program will launch in February 2013 and will continue over a two-year period and includes plans after the first year for a statewide summit with the governor to discuss alternative fuel vehicle adoption, Breen said.

Contra Costa Co.: Homeless Man Killed In Encampment Was Strangled To Death

A longtime transient who was killed in a fight at an encampment in unincorporated Concord Wednesday night was strangled to death, a sheriff's spokesman said Thursday afternoon.

Emergency responders arrived at the encampment near the Concord Avenue on-ramp to northbound Interstate Highway 680 Wednesday night and were attempting to revive 47-year-old Jerald Nagle when deputies arrived, sheriff's spokesman Jimmy Lee said.

Nagle was pronounced dead at the scene.

Lee said another homeless man, 38-year-old James Riley, had gotten
into a fight with Nagle prior to his death.

Riley was arrested on suspicion of murder and booked into the county jail in Martinez, where he is being held on $1 million bail. 

An autopsy performed Thursday found that Nagle's official cause of death was asphyxia due to strangulation, Lee said. 

The investigation into the murder is ongoing.

Doug Stewart of Central County Homeless Outreach said that Nagle grew up in Pacheco and had lived in camps in the area on and off for nearly a decade.

"He's your typical homeless person -- in and out of jail, he had some drug and alcohol issues," Stewart said.

Nagle, known as Jed, lived with his girlfriend Bambi, who is also homeless. The pair pitched a tent near the freeway off-ramp just a few days ago.

Stewart, who tracks the central county's homeless population and works to connect them with housing and health services, said Nagle was one of a "core group" of about 15 transients living in the area near the freeway.

"I hope the transients in the area look at this and try to get of the streets -- this is how it ends," he said.

Anyone who is homeless and in need of services is advised to call 211.

SF: Supes Hold Hearing On Police Proposal To Equip Officers With Tasers

A proposal to equip San Francisco police officers with Tasers was met with stiff opposition Thursday at a Board of Supervisors committee hearing by civil rights and homeless advocates as well as some supervisors who questioned the need for the devices.

The hearing at the board's public safety committee was called by Supervisor John Avalos and focused on a pilot program for the stun guns that was requested of the Police Commission in August by police Chief Greg Suhr.

The commission has delayed a decision on the request for several months but could return to the issue next month after the department holds three community meetings to explain its need for the Tasers, Suhr told the committee Thursday.

Suhr said the devices would allow officers to "engage those people in crisis with one more tool in their toolbox before being seriously injured or killed themselves."

He said he made the request after a July 18 incident in which an officer fatally shot a man who allegedly lunged at her with a box cutter in the city's Financial District.

"The Taser would've been a better option," Suhr said. "It certainly would've been a less-lethal option."

Avalos was skeptical, arguing that before seeking a new weapon for officers, the Police Department should focus more on fully implementing a crisis intervention training program established in February 2011 that focuses on de-escalation tactics rather than the use of force.

The sentiment was shared by other supervisors on the committee, including Christina Olague, who said she was worried that giving an officer a Taser "would be creating a culture where it's OK for an officer to use a weapon."

Michaela Davis, an attorney for the Northern California chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, also echoed those statements, saying it was "entirely premature to invest in a pilot program for Tasers in this city."

Davis said the devices are often viewed as harmless when they actually "cause excruciating pain and pose the risk of serious injury or death."

She said, "Even if this is introduced as a pilot program, once it's institutionalized, you run the risk of it becoming a department-wide phenomenon."

SF: Businessman Sentenced To 12 Years For Defrauding Mortgage Holders

A San Francisco businessman has been sentenced in federal court to 12 years in prison for defrauding homeowners by telling them to stop paying their mortgages.

Sergio Gutierrez, who turns 49 today, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White on Tuesday.

White also ordered him to pay $89,835 in restitution to 17 Bay Area and Northern California victims for fees they paid him for a supposed mortgage elimination program.

U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag said Gutierrez defrauded his clients by falsely telling them they would be able to own their homes outright if they paid him for documents that he claimed would dispute the validity of their mortgages.

Haag said lawsuits filed by the victims were dismissed by various California courts and most of clients ended up losing their homes through foreclosure.

Some of the victims were behind on their mortgages and would have lost their homes in any case, according to prosecutors. 

Gutierrez was convicted by a jury in White's court on Aug. 29 of one count of conspiring to commit mail fraud between 2007 and 2009 and seven counts of mail fraud.

According to court documents, Gutierrez is a naturalized citizen who was born in Nicaragua and came to the United States at age 14. 

He formerly operated a small marketing and advertising business that served primarily Hispanic customers and also ran the mortgage elimination program, known as California Association Security Heritage, or CASH, from an office on Mission Street in San Francisco.

Defense attorney Michael Hinckley wrote in a sentencing brief that the recession of the mid-2000s caused Gutierrez's advertising business to flounder.

"The stress became overwhelming and there is little doubt that Mr. Gutierrez's judgment and mental well-being were affected," the attorney wrote.

Marin Co.: Jason Weber Named New Marin County Fire Department Chief

The Marin County Board of Supervisors named Jason Weber the new Marin County Fire Department Chief this week.

Weber, 36, who was serving as interim chief since Chief Ken Massucco retired in March after 37 years with the fire department, was selected to head the 86-member department from a pool of 49 applicants and seven finalists.

Weber was a volunteer with the Schell-Vista Fire Protection District in the Sonoma Valley for 20 years and served as president of the California Fire Exploring Association for the past 10 years.

"I look forward to working with all our communities to ensure Marin remains the safest place to live, work and enjoy," Weber said. 

Weber lives in Novato with his wife and two children.

The Marin County Fire Department has six fire stations, two fire lookouts and a 12-member crew. There are 86 employees, 60 seasonal firefighters and 25 volunteers.

The Marin County Fire Department's annual operating budget is approximately $19.4 million. 

Weber's salary is $171,954.

Martinez: Fish And Game Wardens Stumble Across Missing Man During Traffic Stop

A pair of wardens from the California Department of Fish and Game inadvertently found an elderly at-risk man in Martinez Wednesday night who had been reported missing hours earlier.

Game wardens Nicole Kozicki and Jason Rogers were driving on state Highway 4 in Martinez around 10:30 p.m. when they spotted a car swerving and driving erratically.

The pair had been working on an enforcement operation Wednesday to catch potential sturgeon poachers in the area.

"They found few anglers and fewer sturgeon but had plenty of other activity to take up their time," Fish and Game Lt. Patrick Foy said.

After stopping the vehicle, the wardens spoke to the driver, a man in his 80s.

The pair ran the car's license plate and found that the man, who suffers from dementia, had been reported missing from his Napa home earlier in the day, Foy said.

"He could remember (his wife's) name, but he couldn't remember where he lived or her phone number," Fish and Game Lt. Sheree Christensen said.

The wardens found a note that the man's wife had tucked into his wallet with her name and contact information, and helped reunite the man with his family later Wednesday night, Foy said.

After learning that the man had not eaten all day, the wardens shared some of their lunch with him as they waited for his family members to pick him up.

The unexpected traffic stop for the game wardens came hours after the same pair stopped another erratic driver in Crockett.

"Most people don't even realize that wardens are able to make traffic stops," Foy said.

The pair learned that the man was driving a car affixed with stolen license plates and several vehicle code violations. The wardens cited him for the violations and for possession of stolen property and released him.

Regional: Accused Killer Joseph Naso's Trial Off Until April

The trial of accused killer Joseph Naso has been postponed until April 24.

Initially, Naso, 78, was to be tried in Marin County Superior in October for killing four women between 1977 and 1994 in Marin, Contra Costa and Yuba counties. His trial was then re-scheduled for January when Naso said he needed more time.

On Nov. 30, Judge Andrew Sweet granted Naso a continuance until April, Deputy District Attorney Rosemary Slote said.

The prosecution opposed the continuance, but the judge ruled in Naso's favor because he is representing himself, Slote said.

Naso said he could not be ready for trial in January because of the volume of the reports he has received, Slote said.

The judge also agreed to designate Naso's advisory counsel, Deputy Public Defender Pedro Oliveros, Naso's stand-by counsel, Slote said.

As stand-by counsel, Oliveros will represent Naso if Naso's right to represent himself is rescinded, Slote said.

Naso is charged with the murder of Roxene Roggasch in January 1977; Carmen Colon, 22, in Contra Costa County in August 1978; Pamela Parsons, 38, in Contra Costa County on Sept. 19, 1993; and Tracy Tafoya, 31, in August 1994 in Yuba County. The victims were found along roadsides in the three counties.

Roggasch's body was found on the eastern slope of White's Hill
near Fairfax on Jan. 11, 1977.

She was wearing a pair of pantyhose inside out, another pair was found around her neck, a third pair was found in her mouth and a fourth pair was wrapped around her mouth.

At Naso's preliminary hearing in January, Contra Costa County sheriff's Deputy Tuan Nguyen, a criminalist who processed and examined the pantyhose for DNA evidence, testified semen from two males was found on the inside of the pantyhose Roggasch was wearing. He said one of the sperm samples "likely" came from Naso.

Weather Forecast For The Bay Area

Partly cloudy skies are likely in the Bay Area this morning, with sunny skies later in the day. Highs are expected to be around 50, with western winds up to 10 mph.

Mostly clear skies are expected tonight, becoming partly cloudy. Lows are likely to be in the lower 50s, with northeast winds up to 10 mph.

Partly cloudy skies are expected on Saturday morning, becoming sunny later in the day. Highs are likely to be in the lower 60s, with winds up to 10 mph.

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