San Francisco Bay Area Monday Morning News Roundup

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Employees at Five UC Hospitals Will Start Two-Day Strike

About 13,000 union workers at five University of California medical centers, including the one in San Francisco, plan to begin a two-day strike this morning, union leaders said Monday.

Randall Johnson, an MRI technologist at UCSF, said employees are staging the work action over staffing levels, contracting out, pension contributions and other issues.

"We've been in negotiations for over a year and there's been no major movement on the core issues so we're at an impasse," Johnson said.

Johnson said members of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 3299 are leading the two-day strike and will be supported by members of the University Professional and Technical Employees union.

In addition to UCSF, the strike will take place at UC medical centers at San Diego, Irvine, Los Angeles, and Sacramento, where the UC Davis Medical Center is located.

Dr. John Stobo, the UC system's senior vice president for health sciences and services, said the university estimates that the strike will cost $20 million, which he said means that "there will be fewer dollars to support the education of medical students and residents to support programs to improve medical care."

Stobo said, "The real impact is the safety of our patients and we've had to cancel a significant number of surgeries" because of the strike.

Dr. Joshua Adler, the chief medical officer at UCSF, said the strike has forced the hospital to cancel surgery for more than 150 patients, including cancer patients who were supposed to have chemotherapy and radiation treatments and five children who were supposed to have congenital heart surgery.

Dwaine Duckett, UC's vice president for human resources, said, "Patients shouldn't be in the middle of a labor dispute."

Duckett alleged that after contract talks began last June, AFSCME "made it clear that they were determined to flex their muscles and go on strike."

He also alleged that the union has refused to contribute more money to employees' retirement costs.

But Johnson said employees don't think they should contribute more to retirement costs if management doesn't also increase its contributions to retirement costs.

Johnson added, "Contracting out jobs to non-union workers and staffing levels are equally important to us."

A Sacramento County Superior Court judge issued an injunction Monday that limits the scope of the strike but said it could take place.

Police Chief Declares 'Crime Emergency' In East Palo Alto

Following the recent violence in East Palo Alto, culminating in Sunday's killing of a teenager, police Chief Ronald Davis is calling a "crime emergency" for the department, which will take effect on today.

Declaring a "crime emergency" allows the department to cancel days off and make assignment changes as needed. It will more than double the number of patrol officers in the field during critical time periods, Capt. Carl Estelle said Monday.

He said Davis had talked briefly about declaring a crime emergency a couple of weeks ago but that Sunday's homicide was the final straw.

"[Davis] considered it but late last night, he felt that it's time to call the crime emergency," Estelle said. "It's really the culmination of the last couple of weeks."

Sunday's killing of 15-year-old Jose Quinonez was the city's fifth homicide and one of more than 50 firearm assaults since January, police said.

Eight of those assaults have happened in the past two weeks, according to police.

As part of this, the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office will deploy a multi-agency tactical team to focus its efforts on the Nortenos gang, the gang allegedly responsible for the recent violence spike.

The countywide Gang Task Force will also continue its summer programs in East Palo Alto and throughout the county, Estelle said.

The teams should increase the amount of intelligence law enforcement has on the gangs, Estelle said.

The "crime emergency" will last 30 days and after about two weeks, police will evaluate the success to determine whether to extend or end the action, Estelle said.

Man Accused Of Shooting At San Francisco Police In 2011 Ordered To Stand Trial

A man accused of shooting at San Francisco police officers in the city's Western Addition neighborhood in 2011 has been ordered to stand trial on attempted murder and several assault and firearm charges, prosecutors said Monday.

Roselyndo Sicat, 40, was shot and wounded by officers after he allegedly fired several shots at them shortly before 8 a.m. on June 29, 2011, near Gough and Ellis streets, police said.

Sicat was held to answer Monday on nine felony counts, including attempted murder, assault on a police officer, possession of a firearm by a felon, illegal possession of an assault weapon, and discharging a firearm with gross negligence, district attorney's office spokesman Alex Bastian said.

The shooting happened after two plainclothes officers spotted Sicat as he was leaving a residential driveway. He had been wanted on a $75,000 warrant for felony vandalism and resisting arrest and was on active parole for a weapons violation, police said.

After Sicat was shot, he crashed into a parked car and was arrested by the officers, who were not injured in the gunfire, according to police.

He will return to court on June 4 to be formally arraigned on the charges, Bastian said.

Four-Alarm Vegetation Fire In Orinda Contained After Burning Eight Acres

Firefighters have contained a four-alarm vegetation fire in Orinda Monday afternoon, a fire chief said.

The Moraga-Orinda Fire District received a report of a fire on Descanso Drive near Ivy Drive at 1:23 p.m., fire chief Randy Bradley said.

The fire burned eight acres before being contained at 3:15 p.m., Bradley said.

Fire crews remain on scene and continue to investigate the cause of the fire.

Bradley said the fire threatened some homes but fire engines were placed at the homes to prevent any damage.

The Contra Costa County Fire Prevention District also responded to the fire.

Sonoma County Jury Deliberating Sanity Of First-Degree Murder Defendant

A Sonoma County jury that convicted a Santa Rosa man of the brutal first-degree murder of his father is now deciding whether he was insane at the time.

Jurors heard closing arguments Monday from Deputy Public Defender Karen Silver, who said three psychiatrists agreed 22-year-old Houston Herczog was suffering from paranoid schizophrenia and was insane when he killed his 63-year-old father Mark Herczog in their Rincon Valley home on Nov. 21, 2011.

Silver said she met the defense's burden of proving Herczog's illness made him incapable of knowing the nature of his acts or that they were legally and morally wrong.

Deputy District Attorney Robert Waner told the jury Herczog might have been suffering from schizophrenia at the time of the murder, but that is not the same as being insane at the time of the slaying.

Waner's witness, psychiatrist Dr. James Missett, testified the amphetamine Adderall, which Herczog was stealing from his mother, can lead to rage and violence, and he did not find any hard evidence Herczog was psychotic.

"This was a drug-induced killing," Missett said.

Waner suggested Herczog could be exaggerating his symptoms of schizophrenia to escape criminal responsibility.

A lengthy video of an interview with a Santa Rosa police detective a few hours after the slaying showed Herczog oriented, cooperative, and aware of his bodily functions and sleep deprivation, Waner said.

The prosecutor said the simplest explanation for the slaying is that Herczog sought drugs, stole them from his mother, became enraged when he returned home and was confronted by his father and killed him, Waner said.

"The evidence in this case is he was completely sane when he killed his father," Waner told the eight women and four men on the jury.

Silver said Herczog was hearing voices and believed his father was an evil spirit. She said Herczog tried to sever his father's head as a ritual purification to get the evil out.

Herczog stabbed his father more than 50 times and dropped a guitar amplifier on his skull in the kitchen of their home.

"Common sense says this was a psychotic killing, not a normal killing," Silver said. "If this wasn't a psychotic killing, what was it?"

Silver said evidence Herczog was insane includes a history of mental illness in his family, the lack of a motive to kill his father, the nature and character of his father's injuries, his depression, quitting school and his band, cutting his wrists and destroying his room and his car with a machete.

She said his condition improved once he began taking anti-psychotic medication.

"Houston was mentally ill. It's the thing that explains the killing," Silver said.

Medical Examiner Identifies Man In Suspicious Death Case At Marina District Hotel

A man whose death early Thursday at a Marina District hotel is being considered suspicious has been identified by the San Francisco medical examiner's office as 45-year-old Jaisingh Pawar.

Authorities had responded shortly before 4:30 a.m. to 1501 Lombard St., the location of the Francisco Bay Inn, on a report of an unconscious man, fire officials said.

Medics pronounced the man later identified as Pawar dead at the scene and notified police that the case was a possible assault, fire officials said.

Medical examiner's investigators also responded and deemed the death suspicious, prompting the Police Department's homicide detail to take over the investigation, police said.

No other information about the case was immediately available from police.

Former Contra Costa County Narcotics Task Force Head Gets 14-Year Prison Term

A sobbing former Contra Costa County drug task force commander was sentenced Monday to 14 years in federal prison for stealing drug evidence, robbing prostitutes and making phony arrests.

Norman Wielsch, 51, of Concord, asked U.S. District Court Judge Saundra Armstrong to "show me as much leniency as possible," saying that he participated in a Contra Costa County police corruption scheme because he was suffering from depression and post traumatic stress disorder caused by his physical and mental health problems.

Armstrong said she agrees that Wielsch faces medical and mental health problems but she's not persuaded that they caused him to commit the crimes he admitted to when he pleaded guilty to five felony counts on Dec. 5.

Armstrong said Wielsch should get a long sentence because of "the gravity of his conduct and his abuse of his position of trust."

He said if Wielsch were given a light sentence, such as being placed on home confinement, it could undermine the public's confidence in law enforcement officers and its trust of the justice system.

Wielsch pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute marijuana and methamphetamine, one count of theft from a program receiving federal funds, two counts of conspiracy against civil rights and a robbery count.

Six additional charges originally included in the indictment were dropped as a part of his plea deal with the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Wielsch, the former commander of the now-defunct Contra Costa Narcotics Enforcement Team, admitted to committing a series of crimes between 2009 and 2011 that included stealing marijuana and methamphetamine seized during CNET raids and selling the drugs with the help of Antioch private investigator Christopher Butler.

The two previously worked together as Antioch police officers.

The former CNET commander admitted that he stole between $30,000 and $70,000 of marijuana and methamphetamine from county evidence lockers and distributed the drugs with Butler.

Wielsch also admitted to teaming up with Butler to target prostitutes and steal cash, cell phones, a computer and other items from them under the guise of making an arrest. He and Butler had scoured Craigslist and other websites in search of their targets and eventually met up with a prostitute and a madam in a San Ramon hotel room in the summer of 2010.

Armstrong sentenced Butler to eight years in federal prison last year for his role in the crimes.

Wielsch's plea agreement called for him to be sentenced to at least 10 years and he faced a sentence of up to 17 and one half years.

President Obama Visiting Bay Area Again Next Month For Fundraisers

President Barack Obama is returning to the Bay Area in a couple of weeks to raise money for his Democratic colleagues in the U.S. Senate, according to party officials.

Obama will be attending fundraising events on June 6 in Palo Alto and Portola Valley on behalf of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

The president's trip will include a 5 p.m. reception at the Palo Alto home of tech entrepreneurs Marci and Mike McCue, according to an invitation for the event.

He will then travel to Portola Valley for a 6:30 p.m. dinner and discussion at the home of venture capitalist Vinod Khosla and his wife Neeru.

Sens. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., and Michael Bennet, D-Colo., are also expected to attend both events.

Tickets for the dinner cost $32,400 per person, and tickets for the reception start at $2,500, according to the invitation.

Obama was last in the Bay Area in April when he attended Democratic fundraisers in San Francisco and along the Peninsula.

Fairfield Man Killed In Wrong-Way Driving Crash Sunday

The Solano County coroner's office identified the driver who died when he drove the wrong way on Interstate Highways 80 and 680 Sunday night as 53-year-old Jeffrey Woodhouse of Fairfield.

Woodhouse was driving a 2009 Toyota Camry south on northbound Highway 680 when he collided head-on with a 2005 Hummer H2 near Marshview Road in Solano County south of Fairfield around 8 p.m., California Highway Patrol Sgt. Mike Lehman said.

Before the fatal collision, Woodhouse was driving west on eastbound Highway 80 near the Rio Vista-Suisun City state Highway 12 off-ramp in Suisun, CHP Officer Ralph Caggiano said.

Caggiano said Woodhouse drove the wrong way on the freeways for about nine miles.

A passenger in the Hummer complained of pain but the Hummer driver was not injured, Lehman said.

Woodhouse was pronounced dead at the scene at 8:25 p.m. Sunday, coroner's Deputy Jackson Harris said. Results of an autopsy will be pending toxicology tests, Harris said.

The collision closed northbound Highway 80 for 70 minutes, Lehman said.

San Francisco Bay Area Weat

Mostly cloudy skies and patchy fog are likely in the Bay Area this morning. Highs are expected to be in the 50s to mid 60s, with westerly winds up to 30 mph.

Mostly clear skies are likely this evening. Lows are likely to be near 50, with northwest winds up to 30 mph.

Sunny skies are expected Wednesday morning. Highs are expected to be in the 50s to mid 60s, with winds up to 30 mph in the afternoon.

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