Tuesday Midday News Roundup

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Man Who died In Apartment Fire Was USF Professor

A man who died in an apartment fire in Berkeley early this morning was a longtime professor at the University of San Francisco.

Andrew Goodwin, 56, died in a two-alarm fire that was reported at 1:38 a.m. at an apartment building at 2431 Oregon St., near Telegraph Avenue, Berkeley fire Acting Deputy Chief Avery Webb said.

Responding firefighters learned there might still be someone inside the building, and forced entry to a third-floor unit, where they found Goodwin, Webb said.

Goodwin was transported to Alta Bates Summit Medical Center, where he later died, according to the Alameda County coroner's bureau.

The fire was controlled at 2:08 a.m. Goodwin was one of the founders of USF's media studies department and was a pioneer in the field of media and cultural studies nationwide, USF media studies chair Bernadette Barker-Plummer said.

He taught classes on media theory, popular music and communication, among other topics, Barker-Plummer said.

Goodwin taught a special class on Led Zeppelin and was writing a book on the band, program assistant Lydia Fedulow said.

He had taught at the university for at least 20 years, Fedulow said.

Former student Lindsay Dellas remembered having "great discussions" in his class about various bands and the evolution of music genres and the music industry.

"He was a tough professor and he definitely challenged students, but was inspiring and extremely passionate about his area of study," Dellas wrote in an email.

Goodwin is also known for his book "Dancing in the Distraction Factory: Music Television and Popular Culture," university officials said.

"Andrew was the type of person that put his students first," Fedulow said. "He was always very concerned about students and making sure they were getting the most of their experience at USF. He was very brilliant. He will be missed a lot by faculty, staff and students."

Goodwin received his Ph.D. from the Birmingham University Center for Cultural Studies in the U.K.

He leaves behind an adult son and sister who lives in England, Fedulow said.


Richmond: City Council To Consider Dropping Controversial Mortgage Plan

The Richmond City Council this evening will consider scrapping the city's controversial plan to buy struggling homeowners' underwater mortgages.

Richmond city officials have proposed teaming up with San Francisco investment firm Mortgage Resolution Partners to buy more than 600 city residents' mortgages that are underwater, meaning that the residents owe more money than the home is currently worth.

The city has said it could use its municipal power of eminent domain to force the sale of the mortgages if lenders did not accept the offer.

But an agenda item submitted by Vice Mayor Corky Booze and Councilman Nathaniel Bates for today's 5 p.m. City Council meeting proposes withdrawing the offers to buy the mortgages.

"While most of us are sympathetic to the many citizens who are undergoing financial risk of losing their homes through circumstances related to the mortgage crisis, as responsible elected officials, we must not compromise the integrity and financial ability of this city to operate efficiently," the council members said in the agenda item.

Wells Fargo and Deutsche Bank have filed a lawsuit over the plan, saying the proposed use of eminent domain, which is typically used to purchase private land for public use, is unconstitutional.

The banks say the plan would also harm Richmond in the long run by making it harder for city residents to get approved for mortgage financing.

Two groups on opposing sides of the plan are holding rallies in advance of this evening's meeting.

Proponents of the mortgage plan, including Mayor Gayle McLaughlin, are holding a 4:30 p.m. news conference and rally at City Hall.

The Black American Political Action Committee, which wants the city to scrap the proposal, is holding a separate event nearby at 5 p.m.

Although the meeting begins at 5 p.m., a vote will not take place before 6:30 p.m.


Man Critically Injured In Unprovoked Attack In Tenderloin

A 60-year-old man was critically injured when he hit his head on the sidewalk after being punched in San Francisco's Tenderloin neighborhood on Monday night, police said.

The attack, which police said appears to have been unprovoked, was reported at 9:51 p.m. in the first block of Turk Street.

The victim was standing in that block when the suspect rode up to him on a beach cruiser bike, according to police.

The suspect "struck him one time in the chest area with his fist, and it caused the victim to fall backwards and strike his head on the sidewalk," police Sgt. Danielle Newman said.

Officers arrived to find the victim bleeding from life-threatening head wounds, police said.

He was taken to San Francisco General Hospital, where he remained in critical condition this morning.

The suspect, described as a man in his mid- to late 20s, remains at large, Newman said.

Investigators are canvassing the neighborhood looking for potential witnesses and any surveillance video footage of the assault, police said.

Anyone with information on the case is asked to call the Police Department's anonymous tip line at (415) 575-4444 or text a tip to TIP411, with "SFPD" in the message.


State, SF Officials Unveil New Smartphone App For Law Enforcement

State Attorney General Kamala Harris and San Francisco city officials unveiled a new smartphone app Monday that will allow law enforcement to access local, state and federal criminal databases and file reports from out in the field.

The JusticeMobile app, developed by the California Department of Justice, will allow authorities to look into criminal backgrounds of possible suspects without having to call or radio in to another member of their department for the information.

"This is going to be transformative for law enforcement in the state," Harris said.

The app was tested over the past five months by more than 600 San Francisco police officers and will soon be rolled out in smartphones being given to all officers in the department, including a recently graduated academy class, police Chief Greg Suhr said.

Suhr said the smartphones also have the technology to allow officers to file reports remotely rather than coming back to a district station, allowing them to be in the field up to 40 percent longer.

"This is going to be the industry standard," he said.

Mayor Ed Lee said the use of new technology could be a factor in the city's recent downtick in violence.

San Francisco has seen 40 percent less homicides and 20 percent less shootings than at the same time last year, he said.

Harris said Los Angeles police will soon be equipping their officers with the smartphone app, while other departments also plan to do so.

She said special Department of Justice agents have already been using the app to check potential gun buyers at firearm shows in California to see if they are on the list of people prohibited from possessing a gun.

The app will employ rigorous security standards including strong password requirements, encryption, limits on downloads and the prohibiting of copying or screen captures, according to the attorney general's office.

San Francisco police had initially tested another pilot program involving the use of tablet computers by field officers, but Suhr said the project was scrapped after it proved to be too costly and without adequate security protections.


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