San Francisco Bay Area Tuesday Morning News Roundup

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Palo Alto Man Dies in Plane Crash

A Palo Alto man died and his wife was injured in a plane accident in Lake Tahoe Monday morning, authorities said.

A single-engine Mooney M20 crashed in a wooded area less than a mile east the Lake Tahoe Airport in South Lake Tahoe after taking off at 11:15 a.m., Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Ian Gregor said.

Two people were on board. A man died in the crash, while the man's wife suffered moderate injuries and was taken to a hospital in Reno, El Dorado County sheriff's Lt. Pete Van Arnum told reporters at the scene.

Van Arnum identified the couple as Steven and Karen Lefton. Karen Lefton had been trapped in the plane when an off-duty nurse came upon the crash while walking her dog in the area, he said.

The nurse provided aid to the injured woman and alerted authorities. The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the accident.

BART Chief Negotiator Accused of Unfair Bargaining

Less than two weeks before BART workers could resume their strike, union leaders alleged Monday that management's chief negotiator has a long history of engaging in hardball tactics and accused him of engaging in unfair bargaining.

Roxanne Sanchez, the president of Service International Union Local 1021, which represents 1,430 mechanics, custodians and clerical workers, said Thomas Hock and his company, Professional Transit Management, have been named in 47 complaints with the National Labor Relations Board since 2001 and he's been involved in negotiations that have resulted in seven transit strikes since 2005.

Speaking at a news conference outside the Caltrans building in Oakland, where contract talks have been taking place, Sanchez alleged that Hock has engaged in "surface bargaining," which she said is a technique designed not to make progress and to create a public backlash against BART workers.

Sanchez also alleged that Hock is unavailable for 10 of the 14 days remaining before the contract for BART employees expires on Aug. 4 and called for BART General Manager Grace Crunican or another top executive to come to the bargaining table to try to reach an agreement.

However, Crunican said she still supports Hock because "he's a great negotiator who has settled a lot of contracts."

She said Hock has negotiated more than 400 labor contracts since 1972 and in that time only two unfair labor practice charges alleging bad faith bargaining have been filed against him.

Crunican said one of those complaints was withdrawn by the union that filed it and in the second case there was no finding of bad faith bargaining.

Crunican also alleged that SEIU negotiators haven't been at the bargaining table "40 percent of the time" since contract talks began on April 1.

The general manager said she's not at the bargaining table every day but she's fully informed about the talks and is available at all times.

Members of SEIU Local 1021 and members of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555, which represents 945 station agents, train operators and clerical workers, went on strike on July 1 but late on July 4 they agreed to extend their previous contract for 30 days, until Aug. 4, and return to work the afternoon of July 5.

The four-and-a-half day strike clogged local highways and caused commuting headaches for Bay Area residents.

BART management said state mediators who brokered the 30-day contract extension were informed that Hock wouldn't be available from July 24 to July 28 and agreed there would still be ample time to negotiate a contract.

The key issues in the contract talks are wages, employee contributions for health care and retirement costs, and safety.

Among those who joined Sanchez in criticizing Hock were Josie Mooney, one of SEIU Local 1021's lead negotiators, and ATU Local 1555 spokesman Leo Ruiz.

Sanchez said "there's still a huge divide between the parties and very serious differences at this late date."

But Crunican was more hopeful that a settlement can still be reached, saying, "There are still two weeks to go and that's a good amount of time." She said, "We're here to get a settlement."

County Clerks Dispute Over Same-Sex Marriages

Twenty-four county clerks weighed in with the California Supreme Court Monday to say they believe they should continue licensing same-sex marriages, which resumed in the state three weeks ago.

One other -- San Diego County Clerk Ernest Dronenburg -- told the court he doesn't believe he should do so.

The clerks' filings with the court in San Francisco came in response to the first of two lawsuits submitted to the panel in the past 10 days by opponents of same-sex marriage.

Both lawsuits ask the court to grant a hearing on their claim that Proposition 8, a 2008 voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage, is still valid in most of the state.

One lawsuit was filed by the sponsors of Proposition 8 on July 12 and the second was filed by Dronenburg on July 19.

Both contend that a federal trial court injunction prohibiting enforcement of Proposition 8 applies only to two couples who challenged the measure in court.

Gay and lesbian marriages resumed in the state on June 28, two days after the U.S. Supreme Court dismissed an appeal by the Proposition 8 sponsors and thereby left the injunction in place.

Monday was the deadline for filing opposition to the sponsors' lawsuit. The state high court turned down their bid for an immediate stay of the weddings last week, but is still considering their request for a hearing and a long-term order blocking the marriages.

The 24 clerks favoring licensing, who signed on to one or more of four separate briefs, argue that the 2010 injunction by U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker of San Francisco applies statewide.

They also say that state Registrar Tony Agurto had statewide authority over county clerks when, at the behest of Gov. Jerry Brown and Attorney General Kamala Harris, he instructed clerks to resume issuing gay marriage licenses on June 28.

"Counties have no independent authority over marriage" and "county clerks are subordinate to the state with respect to the administration of marriage laws," wrote Monterey County Counsel Charles McKee on behalf of 20 clerks.

McKee warned that allowing counties to have different rules for marriage could lead to "practical and legal absurdities" and a possible "onslaught of further civil rights lawsuits against counties."

Bay Area counties whose clerks signed on to one or more of the briefs include Alameda, Contra Costa, Monterey, Napa, San Francisco, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz and Sonoma.

In a brief joined by Santa Clara, Santa Cruz and Sonoma counties, San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera agreed with McKee's reasoning and also argued Walker had the authority to issue a statewide ruling because constitutional rights were at stake.

"No one can enforce an unconstitutional law, not the state, not a county clerk, and not a small group of misguided advocates who don't seem to understand when they've lost," Herrera said in a statement.

The city attorney said the brief makes "the simple argument that the federal district court has already decided that Proposition 8 violates the U.S. Constitution and cannot be enforced constitutionally in any square inch of the state against any same-sex couple."

The sponsors of Proposition 8, and their committee, Protect Marriage, have until Aug. 1 to submit a final brief on their request for a hearing. Dronenburg's separate lawsuit seeking a stay and a hearing is still pending.

Britannia Arms Bar Hosting "Baby Shower"

Following Monday's birth of a baby boy to Kate Middleton and Prince William, the Duchess and Duke of Cambridge, a British bar in San Jose is preparing to celebrate this weekend.

Britannia Arms, located at 5027 Almaden Expressway, will be hosting a "baby shower" to mark the birth of the newest member of the British royal family, bar manager Michael North said.

The official time and date of the event, which have not yet been set, will be posted on the bar's Facebook page and disseminated through Twitter.

North said there is local interest in the birth, although not as much as there was in the royal wedding. "It's not quite as exciting as when they got married," North said.

"(The birth) is not the kind of thing people will sit and wait for."

North said there will be cake and champagne at the celebration this weekend. His wife will be making the cake, he said.

Juveniles Arrested for Rape and Burglary Incident

Morgan Hill police arrested three juveniles in the rape and burglary of a 40-year-old woman on Saturday, a police captain said.

The incident happened after the woman had been drinking at a local establishment and called a taxi to take her home, Capt. Shane Palsgrove said.

The taxi driver enlisted assistance from a mother and teenage son to help him take the woman inside her house, Palsgrove said.

Later that evening the 16-year-old son returned to the woman's residence and raped her, Palsgrove said.

The boy then left the woman's home and returned with his 15-year-old girlfriend and her friend who all burglarized the victim, according to Palsgrove.

Officers later recovered the stolen property at the male juvenile's home, police said.

The three juveniles were arrested on suspicion of residential burglary, conspiracy and violation of juvenile probation, according to Palsgrove.

The male juvenile was also charged with rape of an intoxicated person, Palsgrove said.

Sprint Car Driver Expected to Recover From Crash

A champion sprint car driver is expected to recover from a crash at Antioch Speedway Saturday night, according to event organizers.

Peter Murphy of Clovis was completing the 14th lap during the King of the West event when he was struck by two cars, according to a statement by Gary Thomas, communications director for the event.

The Contra Costa County Fire Protection District responded to the event at the Contra Costa County Fairgrounds at 1201 W. 10th St. around 9:15 p.m., Contra Costa County Fire Protection District spokesman Robert Marshall said.

The vehicle flipped over several times before it came to rest on its roof, Marshall said.

Murphy was stuck underneath his car for 40 minutes as extensive extrication was needed to take him out, Marshall said.

He was airlifted to John Muir Medical Center in Walnut Creek, Thomas said.

"The doctors have determined he had a traumatic brain injury, a compressed vertebrae, as well as severe stretching and swelling to the tendons in his neck," a spokeswoman for Murphy said in a statement posted on the event's Facebook page Monday afternoon.

Murphy is a native of Sydney, Australia and was running in second position when the crash occurred, Thomas said.

Event organizers ended the race following the crash "as emotions were running high with everyone," Thomas said.

San Francisco Ordinance Offers Incentives for Healthier Foods

A San Francisco Board of Supervisors committee Monday approved legislation that will provide incentives to corner stores that sell healthier foods in the city.

The ordinance, authored by Supervisor Eric Mar, follows smaller-scale efforts recently that have targeted the city's Bayview and Tenderloin neighborhoods, where many markets offered processed food, tobacco and alcohol options and lacked fresh produce and other healthy meals.

"We're turning it citywide," Mar said.

He said at Monday's meeting of the board's land use and economic development committee that the lack of healthy food "has really become a civil rights issue for many of our lower-income neighborhoods."

The legislation will provide free assistance from finance and merchandizing consultants, priority consideration for grants and offers other perks from the city for businesses that agree to devote at least 35 percent of their selling area to produce, whole grains, lean protein and dairy and devotes less than 20 percent of the space to alcohol and tobacco products.

The program will be overseen by the city's Office of Economic Workforce Development in collaboration with the San Francisco Department of Public Health and local community groups.

Mar said the program is a "one-stop shop" to help businesses transform into ones that sell healthier food while staying competitive with other markets.

Supervisor Malia Cohen, a co-sponsor of the legislation, represents the Bayview District, which she said has been "notoriously known for being a food desert."

However, efforts in recent years by the city and groups like Southeast Food Access are "redefining what a liquor store is looking like in the Bayview," with healthier options more prominent in businesses that have agreed to overhaul their store layout.

Similar changes are also starting in the Tenderloin, where there are currently more than 70 corner stores but not a single full-service grocery store, according to Supervisor Jane Kim, who represents that neighborhood and is also co-sponsoring the legislation.

"All of us deserve to live in healthy neighborhoods," Kim said.

The board committee unanimously recommended approval the ordinance, which will now go to the full board for consideration.

Car Crash Victim Identified

A man who was killed while attempting to help crash victims on Interstate Highway 280 early Sunday morning has been identified by the San Mateo County coroner's office as 32-year-old Redwood City resident Kirk Peterson.

The crash was reported north of Woodside Road at about 2:40 a.m.

A preliminary investigation indicated that the 25-year-old driver of a black Honda, Vallejo resident Charles Miranda, allowed his car to clip the rear of a Toyota SUV, causing the Toyota to go out of control and strike the center divider, California Highway Patrol Officer Art Montiel said.

Peterson saw the crash and pulled over to the road's right shoulder in his Jeep, then attempted to run across southbound lanes to assist the victims.

He was struck and killed by an oncoming Infiniti SUV, Montiel said. Two people in the SUV suffered minor injuries.

Miranda has been charged with driving under the influence causing bodily injury and will be in court Monday afternoon, according to the San Mateo County District Attorney's Office.

Anyone who might have witnessed the incident should call the CHP at (650) 369-6261.

Man Arrested for Robbing Bank

A man was arrested after robbing a Burlingame bank late Monday morning, a police sergeant said.

The man went into a bank branch in the 1100 block of Broadway just before noon, said he had a gun and demanded money from a teller, Burlingame police Sgt. Don Shepley said.

A Wells Fargo branch is located in the block. The suspect took cash and left the bank on foot.

A description of the robber was broadcast to law enforcement agencies in the region, and he was later detained by Daly City police in that city and then taken into custody by Burlingame police, Shepley said.

No injuries were reported during the robbery and a gun was never seen, Shepley said.

Bay Area Weather

Mostly cloudy skies and patchy fog are expected in the Bay Area this morning, with a slight chance of thunderstorms.

Highs are likely to be in the upper 50s to lower 70s, with winds up to 20 mph in the afternoon.

Mostly cloudy skies are expected this evening, with patchy fog after midnight. Lows are likely to be in the mid 50s, with southwest winds up to 20 mph.

Cloudy skies and patchy fog are likely Wednesday morning. Highs are expected to be in the 50s to upper 60s, with westerly winds up to 15 mph.

 

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