San Francisco Bay Area Tuesday Morning Roundup

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San Jose Officially Raises Minimum Wage to $10

San Jose's minimum wage officially rose to $10 an hour Monday and business people who once opposed it now see it as a way to boost worker productivity and profits, a business leader said.

"It's the classic making lemonade out of lemons," said Scott Knies, executive director of the San Jose Downtown Association at a news conference in downtown San Jose to announce a new promotion campaign in light of the wage hike.

The association last year joined other business groups speaking out against Measure D, a ballot proposition to raise the hourly minimum wage in the city from $8 to $10.

Measure D passed in November with almost 60 percent voter support and took effect Monday, giving full-time minimum wage workers about $250 extra income a month.

San Jose businesses now want to raise awareness with customers to spend their money in San Jose for ethical reasons and support a local economy that pays low-wage employees more, Knies said.

"Businesses are a pragmatic sort," Knies said. "The law is in effect today. Whether or not you are for or against it you have to make the best of it."

After the election, Knies said the association worked with the South Bay AFL-CIO Labor Council, a worker group that campaigned in favor of Measure D, to launch a local business promotion called "Earn 'n Spend in San Jose."

The promotion, which started Monday, involves installing signs in city businesses urging both minimum wage earners and business customers to spend their money within San Jose versus other towns without a $10 minimum wage, he said.

Knies added, however, that retail, food service, hotel and movie theater owners have told him they will have to either increase prices or simply absorb the cost of the higher wages.

Some business people say they can't raise prices in order to compete so they will have to work more hours themselves to cut expenses, Knies said.

Other owners are reducing benefits for temporary workers and the hours employees work per shift, he said.

Ben Field, executive officer of the labor council, said that the higher minimum wage would give affected employees $70 million more per year in their pockets.

"Low-wage workers will be spending that money right here in San Jose," Field said. "It's like an economic stimulus package for the region."

San Francisco's Elected Officials Speak Out on Islamophobic Muni Ads

Some of San Francisco's top elected officials spoke out Monday against a series of ads on Municipal Railway buses that they say are Islamophobic and racist.

The ads, which began running on 10 Muni buses Monday and are paid for by the American Freedom Defense Initiative, feature quotes from Osama bin Laden and others and associates the word jihad with violent Muslim extremism.

District Attorney George Gascon, who joined several members of the city's Board of Supervisors and dozens of community members outside City Hall to denounce the ads, said they are meant to "denigrate, marginalize and dehumanize our city's Arab and Muslim communities."

Gascon said the city officials were coming together to say, "When any part of our community is attacked, we are all attacked."

Board of Supervisors President David Chiu said the American Freedom Defense Initiative is made of "well-known hate extremists" and said he is introducing a resolution at today's board meeting to denounce the ads.

Pamela Geller, executive director of the AFDI, said the ads were a response to another bus ad campaign earlier this year by the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

That campaign sought to disassociate the word "jihad" with violence and reclaim its meaning as "the struggle," which is a central tenant of Islam.

Geller, whose group also ran an ad campaign last year on Muni buses that referred to Muslims as "savages," criticized the San Francisco city officials for holding Monday's event against her campaign.

"They're holding a press conference to denounce ... my pointing out the truth," she said. "The purpose of our ads is to show the purpose of jihad."

The $5,000 given by the group to the city to pay for the ads for four weeks will be spent on a citywide study on the impact of discrimination on San Francisco's Arab and Muslim communities, according to Theresa Sparks, executive director of the city's Human Rights Commission.

"We're going to take her money of hate and use it to do good," Sparks said.

Nasrina Bargzie, a staff attorney with the Asian Law Caucus and an immigrant from Afghanistan, said Monday's event and the other actions being taken by the city officials are "exactly what we needed."

Bargzie said, "We hear from people all the time, they're really upset."

She said, "We've had kids talking about how they're already bullied in school, and now they have to get on these buses with these messages ... it's really hurtful and harmful."

In response to the ads, Muni is also launching its own ad campaign this week that will promote peace and acceptance of all people, Chiu said.

Investigators are Looking for Missing Oakland Woman

Investigators who are looking for an Oakland woman who has been missing since Thursday morning have received information that she was seen in West Oakland after her disappearance, police said Monday.

Erica Maskaleris, 31, was last seen in a surveillance video from the Taste of Denmark bakery at 34th Street and Telegraph Avenue at about 8 a.m. last Thursday, according to her nephew, Patrick Lopez, who lives with her in that area.

Lopez said Maskaleris was wearing jogging clothes, as she had recently started jogging several mornings a week.

Lopez said Maskaleris is Hispanic and is about 5 feet 3 inches tall and weighs about 220 pounds, with long, curly dark-brown hair.

He said she was last seen wearing a gray sweatshirt, gray sweatpants and red tennis shoes.

Lopez said he last saw Maskaleris Wednesday night at their home.

Oakland police said they began an investigation into the disappearance of Maskaleris on Thursday.

They said at this time investigators are not asking for the assistance of the media and the community in the search for her but they will keep the media updated as their investigation continues.

A friend of Maskaleris who is acting as a spokeswoman for her family said the family initially was unhappy with how police were responding to Maskaleris' disappearance but is now satisfied that police are doing everything they can to look for her.

The family spokeswoman, who asked that her name not be used, said Maskaleris lost her husband to cancer last year, but that she did not seem distraught or despondent recently.

She said Maskaleris was scheduled to fly to Texas on Thursday night to visit a brother, and her family is concerned because she never made the trip.

The friend said Maskaleris' family members and friends have been trying to call her cellphone but that it stopped working on Friday, and calls are now going straight to her voice mail.

The spokeswoman said Maskaleris is the operations manager at GeekoSystems, a computer consultation company based in Oakland that she started with her late husband in 2009.

Santa Clara Mother uses 10-Year-Old to Steal Groceries

A mother who fled after using her 10-year-old daughter to push a cart full of stolen groceries out of a Morgan Hill supermarket was sentenced Monday in Santa Clara County Superior Court to 60 days in jail.

Marcy Erico, also known as Marcy Kellin, was sentenced to the jail term plus three years of probation and must complete classes in theft prevention and parenting, according to Deputy District Attorney Steven Lowney.

Erico, 38, received the sentence as a result of her guilty plea Jan. 22 to one count of commercial burglary, a felony, and contributing to the delinquency of a minor, a misdemeanor, Lowney said.

With 12 days of jail time to her credit, Erico has been permitted to serve her remaining 48 days in a public work detail outside of jail supervised by the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office, Lowney said.

On Sept. 19, Erico told her 10-year-old daughter to transport a shopping cart filled with $145 worth of unchecked groceries and beer from inside a Safeway store in Morgan Hill to the parking lot, Lowney said.

Once the attempted theft was discovered by store officials, Erico fled with her 11-month-old son and a male companion, leaving the girl behind at the store, Lowney said.

Erico left the area and became the subject of an alert for her safety of that of her infant son after an investigating officer said she made suicidal statements.

After an out-of-state felony warrant was issued for her arrest, she was tracked to a Super 8 motel in Fernley, Nev. and arrested there on Sept. 28 by Lyon County sheriff's deputies.

Erico had been seen on surveillance video allegedly stealing groceries from a Safeway store in early September, according to Morgan Hill police.

Lowney said that Erico, who bailed out of jail not long after she returned to Santa Clara County, could have received a sentence of up to three years in state prison on the felony charge.

The judge handled out the smaller sentence since Erico's criminal record was "very light" and the groceries in the cart taken from Safeway did not add up to much, Lowney said.

The felony charge was filed in light of her leaving her child in order to escape, Lowney said.

The daughter, who was placed into the care of her grandmother after her mother left her at the store, was not charged in the theft, Lowney said.

Marin County Sheriff Investigating Baseball Bat Assualt

The Marin County Sheriff's Office is investigating a baseball bat assault in Inverness Park where 700 marijuana plants were growing in two buildings on the property, a sheriff's lieutenant said.

Deputies responded around 7:30 a.m. to what was reported as an attempted murder at 11 Redwood Ave., Lt. Doug Pittman said.

A 26-year-old woman, one of three roommates living on the property, assaulted another roommate in the head with the bat while he was sleeping, Pittman said.

The wounded man sought help from his other roommate who drove him to a hospital, Pittman said.

On the way to the hospital, the suspect chased the victim and other roommate in her orange-colored van on Sir Francis Drake Boulevard through Inverness Park, ramming her van twice into the victim's car before fleeing, Pittman said.

The two roommates arrived at the hospital where the victim was treated for his injuries, Pittman said.

Sheriff's deputies found approximately 700 marijuana plants inside two buildings on the property, and an investigation is under way to determine a cause for the attack, Pittman said.

Man Found Dead in BART Elevator Shaft At San Francisco Montgomery Station

BART officials are investigating how a male transient who was found dead in an elevator shaft Sunday night got into the space at San Francisco's Montgomery station, a BART spokeswoman said Monday.

A person was reported stuck in the elevator at 9:35 p.m., BART police said.

A man, who was riding the elevator from the San Francisco Municipal Railway level to the concourse level, heard a crunching sound and a man yelping before the elevator stopped.

Responding fire crews found a man in the shaft and pronounced him dead at the scene.

The San Francisco medical examiner's office has not released the man's name pending notification of family.

Some personal items were found on the top of the elevator car, including bedding, BART spokeswoman Alicia Trost said.

The elevator that goes from the BART platform, through Muni and up to the concourse level near the Sansome and Sutter streets exit was boarded up Monday.

Trost said the elevator will be back in service by March 20 -- if not sooner.

State inspectors have already inspected the elevator with other inspections in the works.

Investigations into the fatal accident are also under way, she said. "We are obviously trying to connect the dots on how the person got up there," Trost said.

She said there are only two ways to enter the elevator space: a ventilation shaft or an emergency hatch on the top of the car.

BART officials have confirmed that the ventilation shaft entry was secure, she said, and to get through the emergency hatch in the car someone would need a boost.

Trost said officials are looking at surveillance footage to figure out how the man got into the shaft space.

She said BART officials have never seen someone go into the elevator shaft at any station.

Until the elevator reopens, Trost said passengers who need elevator service should use nearby downtown BART stations.

Driver Killed in Head on Crash on Highway 92 near Half Moon Bay

The driver of a Volkswagen Jetta who was killed in a head-on crash on state Highway 92 near Half Moon Bay Monday morning has been identified as Ishan Tejpal, 20, of Tracy, according to the San Mateo County coroner's office.

The crash was reported at 6:05 a.m. near Pastorino Farms, CHP Officer Amelia Jack said.

She said it appears that Tejpal was driving west behind a big-rig and decided to pass it by crossing into eastbound lanes.

He crashed head-on into an oncoming Dodge Ram pickup truck, she said.

Tejpal died in a medical helicopter that was flying him to a hospital, Jack said.

The driver of the Dodge Ram was taken by ground ambulance to Stanford Hospital with minor injuries.

Jack said the crash remains under investigation but that it does not immediately appear that alcohol or drugs played a role in the collision.

The crash shut down Highway 92 in both directions until shortly after 8 a.m.

Another Arrest Made in Martinez Charity Theft

A second arrest has been made in connection with the theft of thousands of dollars in gifts from a charity's storage unit in unincorporated Martinez late last month, Contra Costa County sheriff's officials said Monday.

Frank Mireles, 55, was arrested on Saturday at his home in the first block of Morello Avenue in Martinez.

Mireles was taken into custody a day after 38-year-old Jason Critez, also of Martinez, was arrested in the case, according to the sheriff's office.

The pair is accused of burglarizing the warehouse of the charity, Christmas for Everyone, which reported the theft on Feb. 25 at the building in the 1800 block of Shell Avenue.

The thieves stole about $60,000 worth of property including nearly 70 tables, 100 chairs, as well as tools, toys, coats and barrels filled with other gifts, according to the charity's director, Mary Perez.

On Friday, detectives served a search warrant at a home in the 4200 block of Via De Flores in Martinez that netted more than 30 items that were allegedly stolen from the warehouse.

Crites was booked into county jail on suspicion of burglary and felony vandalism, while Mireles was arrested a day later on suspicion of burglary, possession of stolen property and felony vandalism, sheriff's officials said.

Crites and Mireles are believed to be the only two suspects in the case, according to the sheriff's office.

Investigators said more than half of the property that was stolen has been recovered, but some people may have unknowingly purchased stolen items at flea markets or via other means.

Anyone who thinks they may have purchased some of the stolen items is asked to call (925) 313-2662.

MC Hammer will not be Charged with Hacienda Crossings Shopping Center

The Alameda County District Attorney's Office has confirmed that it will not file charges against rapper MC Hammer in connection with an incident at Hacienda Crossings Shopping Center in Dublin last month.

Dublin police said Hammer, 50, whose real name is Stanley Kirk Burrell, was approached after officers spotted him parked at a Shell gas station near the shopping center around 10:20 p.m. on Feb. 21.

The car had expired registration tags, police Lt. Herb Walters said. Walters said Burrell could not produce any proof that the vehicle was his and became uncooperative with officers.

He was arrested on suspicion of obstructing an officer in the performance of his duties and resisting an officer.

Burrell, a Tracy resident, was booked into the Santa Rita Jail but posted bail and was released, Walters said.

According to Burrell, a police officer approached him and arrested him without cause.

In one tweet on the social networking site Twitter, he said the officer "was tapping on my car window, I rolled down the window and he said, 'Are you on parole or probation?'"

"It was comical to me until he pulled out his guns, blew his whistle and yelled for help," he tweeted.

Officers found an expired registration in the car but were unable to contact the registered owner, who was not Burrell, Walters said.

On Friday night, after hearing of the decision not to file charges against him, Hammer sent a message on Twitter that read, "Thank You to all my friends and supporters. All CHARGES DECLINED. Dropped. Have A great Weekend."

Dublin police Lt. Nate Schmidt said Monday that department officials still believe that officers had probable cause to question and arrest Burrell.

He said the department was seeking a misdemeanor charge against the rapper.

District attorney's office spokeswoman Teresa Drenick declined to elaborate on the decision not to charge Burrell.

Stockton Man Killed on State Highway 4 Near Discovery Bay

A 30-year-old Stockton man was stuck and killed on state Highway 4 near Discovery Bay early Monday morning, a California Highway Patrol officer said.

A 45-year-old woman from Stockton was driving a Kia Rio on eastbound Highway 4 near Newport Drive when she saw a pedestrian in the roadway around 12:15 a.m., CHP Officer John Fransen said.

She was traveling at about 55 mph. She was unable to stop and struck the pedestrian, who was pronounced dead at the scene, Fransen said.

Fransen said it doesn't appear that drugs or alcohol were involved in the crash.

The driver remained at the scene and was cooperative during the investigation, Fransen said.

The Contra Costa County coroner's office said the man's name has not yet been released.

According to the CHP, the roadway reopened at about 2:20 a.m. after the fatal accident.

Ceremonial Dragon Head Stolen in San Francisco

A ceremonial dragon head was stolen from a property in San Francisco on Sunday afternoon but was later recovered, a police spokesman said Monday.

The theft was reported at about 2 p.m. Sunday in the 200 block of 13th Street.

Officers responded to a report of a trespasser stealing the large dragon head, which is worn in parades, from an area in the rear of the building that is secured by a gate, police spokesman Officer Albie Esparza said.

The dragon head was later found a few blocks away, at Valencia and McCoppin streets, Esparza said.

A woman, identified as Shaun Lavell Jones, 28, of San Francisco, was cited for trespassing and lying to police in connection with the incident, Esparza said.

Esparza said he not have details on where police found Jones or her possible connection to the theft.

San Francisco Bay Area Weather

Mostly cloudy skies are forecast for the Bay Area this morning.

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

Mostly clear skies are likely this evening.

Lows are likely to be in the upper 40s, with winds up to 10 mph.

Sunny skies are likely Wednesday morning.

Highs are expected to be in the upper 60s, with northeast winds up to 10 mph.

 

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