San Francisco Bay Area Monday Midday News Roundup

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Obama Coming To The SF Bay Area For Fundraisers Today

President Barack Obama is scheduled to arrive at San Francisco International Airport early this afternoon for a pair of fundraisers in San Francisco later today.

It is the president's fourth trip to the Bay Area since May. His most recent trip in July included a rally at the Fox Theater in Oakland.

Obama will appear at a fundraiser at the InterContinental Hotel on Howard Street late this afternoon before heading to the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium for a dinner, rally and concert.

The dinner, which costs $20,000 per person, will be prepared by celebrity chef Alice Waters. Dinner is scheduled to begin at 5 p.m. with the concert to follow.

Musicians John Legend and Michael Franti will perform, and San Francisco 49ers quarterback Alex Smith is expected to attend. Ticket prices for the concert range from $100 to $7,500.

Protests are planned in Civic Center Plaza during Obama's visit. 

The anti-war group "World Can't Wait" is holding a news conference at 4:30 p.m. at UN Plaza near the Civic Center BART station before marching to Civic Center.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals will also be protesting at Civic Center, on behalf of circus elephants. The group is calling on the president to order the U.S. Department of Agriculture to confiscate mistreated pachyderms.

During the Obama's last Bay Area visit, hundreds of anti-war protesters marched through the streets surrounding Fox Theater, tore down pro-Obama posters and burned an American flag.

Obama is coming to San Francisco today from Southern California after appearing at several Los Angeles fundraisers then visiting the Tehachapi foothills in the Bakersfield area this morning. He will leave the Bay Area for Ohio on Tuesday morning.

Crews Cleaning Up Damage From Sunday Night Occupy Oakland Protest

Crews today are cleaning up the damage left by protesters who smashed windows and threw paint at a number of buildings in downtown Oakland on Sunday night.

Mid-morning, a repairman was fixing broken glass on the front door of City Hall. There were also broken windows and paint marks on the building.

The brand-new Chase Bank branch nearby at 14th Street and Broadway had several cracked windows.

Windows were boarded up at the AC Transit headquarters at 1600 Franklin St., and there were several cracked windows at the Oakland Scientific Facility at 20th and Franklin streets. The building houses computers and data storage for the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. At the California Bank and Trust building on the opposite side of the intersection, more windows were cracked.

Nearby, a crew was repairing windows and power-washing paint damage off of the building that houses the new Oakland Tribune offices at 20th and Broadway.

The vandalism occurred after a planned protest by an anti-imperialist group that was scheduled to begin with a 6 p.m. rally in Frank Ogawa Plaza. The protest was timed to coincide with the 11th anniversary of the War in Afghanistan, according to an online listing about the demonstration.

Police have not announced any arrests in connection with the vandalism.

Slain Hercules Woman's Family To Hold Candlelight Vigil Tonight

Family, friends and community members plan to gather at the home of a slain Hercules woman tonight for a candlelight vigil to remember her life.

Neighbors found Susie Ko, 55, unresponsive at her home on Ash Court in Hercules at about 10:45 p.m. Friday after she failed to pick up her husband at the airport as planned, Hercules police said. She was pronounced dead at the scene.

Police have not disclosed how Ko is believed to have died, but police spokeswoman Officer Connie Van Putten said it appears she suffered a "traumatic injury," and said investigators are treating the case as a homicide.

Since her death, Ko's family members, friends and others have come together in an effort to find the killer.

Ko's car was gone when she was found, and Ko's son Simon Ko, 29, has been coordinating online outreach -- including on the sites www.welovesusieko.com and www.facebook.com/welovesusieko -- to try to track down the sky-blue 2011 Subaru Outback.

Simon and his sisters, Diana Ko, 27, and Sophia Ko, 24, flew in from Southern California and have been working together find her car.

The Subaru, which has an Idaho license plate of 1A1F680, is presumed to have been stolen. A photo of the car is posted on each website.

Simon Ko said strangers who saw information about his mother's death online have helped spread the word about the missing car through social media.

"That impressed me," Simon Ko said. "Everyone has been really helpful."

He said the family has is also using Twitter, creating accounts with the hash tags "#susieko" and "#welovesusieko."

Susie Ko's husband, Kelvin Ko, 60, was flying in from Idaho on Friday night and Susie was supposed to pick him up at Oakland International Airport, police said.

Kelvin Ko works as an insurance auditor in Idaho, where he and Susie also have a home. Simon Ko said his mother would go to the Hercules home, which his parents have owned for more than 30 years, to maintain the home and yard.

"She'd go back periodically to stay a week or two at a time to maintain the house, including landscaping," Simon said. "That's what she really liked to do."

Susie Ko retired in 2006 after teaching kindergarten and second grade for 15 years at St. Patrick School in Rodeo, Simon said. She also served several times as president of the Chinese Association of Hercules, he said.

Susie and Kelvin Ko were planning a trip to London, departing today, to visit their daughter, Sandy, 32, and granddaughter Esme. Sandy lives in London and works for Google there, according to the family's website.

Instead, Sandy arrived in the Bay Area today to mourn her mother's death.

"I'm still in disbelief that this morning could be so different from what my family had planned," Sandy said in a post on the website Sunday. "Our world's have been turned upside down."

Anyone who spots the Subaru is asked to call Hercules police at (510) 724-1111, or call 911, immediately.

Crowd Gathers In Downtown Half Moon Bay For Pumpkin Weigh-Off

The heaviest pumpkins on the West Coast rolled into downtown Half Moon Bay this morning for the 39th annual Safeway World Championship Pumpkin Weigh-Off.

Hundreds of people gathered on Main Street under sunny skies for the contest, enthusiastically cheering each weighing.

More than a dozen pumpkins weighing more than 1,000 pounds each had been assessed as of 11 a.m. The leading gourd, grown by Steve Daletus, of Pleasant Hill, Oregon, tipped the scales at 1,521 pounds. Several more pumpkins remained to be weighed.

The grower of the heaviest pumpkin will receive a cash prize of $6 per pound, and anyone who breaks the world record -- which is currently 2,009 pounds -- will get a cash prize of $25,000.

Gov. Brown Makes Move To Bring Down Soaring Gas Prices

The California Air Resources Board announced Sunday evening that it is easing certain restrictions on gasoline production in response to a directive issued by Gov. Jerry Brown.

Brown ordered the board to allow refineries to switch to a gasoline blend that is normally only used in winter in an effort to lower gas prices.

The order, issued Sunday, directed the board to take whatever steps are necessary to authorize refineries to make an early switch to winter-blend gasoline.

The blend, which isn't normally sold until after Oct. 31, evaporates more quickly than summer blend and is worse for air quality during the smog season, according to state officials.

However, an early transition to it could increase the state's fuel supply by an estimated 8 to 10 percent with a negligible air quality impact, Brown said. Due to its composition, refiners can produce more of the winter blend.

Sunday evening, in response to the governor's order, the California Air Resources Board announced that it will allow the manufacture, importation, distribution and sale of the winter-grade gasoline.

State officials said the recent spike in gas prices, which has seen gas prices above $5 a gallon in some areas, has been fueled in part by recent disruptions in gas production, including at an Exxon refinery in Southern California.

However, U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein said that even with the disruptions, gas production in the state this week remained nearly as high as a year ago, and that stockpiles remain similar to last year's.

Feinstein sent a letter to the Federal Trade Commission on Sunday calling for an investigation into the price hike.

"California's consumers are all too familiar with energy price spikes, which cannot be explained by market fundamentals and which turn out years later to have been the result of malicious and manipulative trading activity," Feinstein said the letter.

Man Dies While Being Booked Into Santa Cruz County Jail

A man died at the Santa Cruz County Jail on Saturday morning after being arrested by the California Highway Patrol, according to the sheriff's office.

Rickey Pritchard, 59, was waiting to be processed at the jail, located at 259 Water St., around 6:38 a.m. when he suffered a medical problem, Santa Cruz County sheriff's officials said.

Jail staff members, including medical professionals, tried to resuscitate Pritchard and called in paramedics, but he died despite their efforts, according to the sheriff's office.

Water Main Breaks In Marina District This Morning

A water main broke in San Francisco's Marina District this morning, fire department officials said.

The main broke at about 6 a.m. near 1901 Lombard St., located between Webster and Buchanan streets.

A San Francisco Public Utilities Commission spokesperson was not immediately available to provide more information about the incident. 

Sanjita Patel, an employee at the nearby Ramada Limited hotel at 1940 Lombard St. who lives on adjacent Moulton Street, said water service to her home had been interrupted.

"We don't have water this morning, not even to drink," Patel said. 

She said the hotel's water service was not affected.

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