San Francisco Bay Area Tuesday Midday News Roundup

Reset News Feed's picture

Supreme Court Expected To Announce Prop 8, DOMA Rulings Wednesday

The U.S. Supreme Court's long-awaited decision on Proposition 8, California's ban on same-sex marriage, is due on Wednesday.

Chief Justice John Roberts announced at the close of a court session today that the panel will issue its remaining decisions Wednesday on cases argued during the current court term.

Those cases include challenges to Proposition 8 and the federal Defense of Marriage Act.

Proposition 8, enacted by state voters in a ballot initiative in 2008, provides that only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.

It was challenged in 2009 in a civil rights lawsuit filed in federal court in San Francisco by two couples who want to marry.

The high court will rule on an appeal by the proposition's sponsors of a lower court decision that struck down the measure.

The marriage ban has remained in effect during the appeal process.

The court has several options for ruling on the case, ranging from upholding Proposition 8 to dismissing the appeal.

The justices' questions and comments during a hearing in March suggest they may be inclined to favor either of two procedural options that would result in the invalidation of Proposition 8, thereby allowing same-sex weddings to resume in California as early as late July.

In those two potential scenarios, the high court itself would not rule directly on whether the measure violates the U.S. Constitution, but would in effect dismiss the appeal and reinstate a lower court ruling that struck down Proposition 8.

In one option, the court could rule that its hearing on the appeal was "improvidently granted," meaning that justices decided that they should not have taken up the case.

That step would reinstate a 2012 decision in which the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals invalidated Proposition 8 on grounds that would apply only to California.

In another option, the court could say the sponsors of Proposition 8 had no standing, or legal authority, to appeal the case after Gov. Jerry Brown and state Attorney General Kamala Harris declined to do so.

That scenario would reinstate a broad ruling in which now-retired U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker said in 2010 that Proposition 8 violates the constitutional rights of due process and equal treatment.

The two sides dispute whether Walker's ruling would then apply statewide or only to the two couples who sued.

San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera has said he is confident the lower court ruling would apply statewide.

He has estimated that same-sex weddings could resume in California by late July, following a 25-day period for sponsors to ask the high court to reconsider the case, plus a few additional days for a court mandate to be issued.

Prop 8 'Decision Day' Rallies Planned Throughout Bay Area

With the Supreme Court expected to release its Proposition 8 and DOMA rulings on Wednesday, rallies are planned all over the Bay Area in support of same-sex marriage rights.

On what is dubbed "decision day," a group will gather at Castro and Market streets in San Francisco's Castro District at 6:30 p.m.

Marriage Equality USA spokesman Billy Bradford said preparations are under way for a rally and potential celebration, including two stages for music and speeches. Police have been notified about the event.

He said the celebratory mood could be soured, however, depending on the content of the rulings. Bradford said those attending may have to "temper our joy. Our work here isn't done."

San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera will be holding a news conference Wednesday morning following the Supreme Court's announcement, which is expected shortly after 7 a.m.

Herrera's news conference will take place on the steps of City Hall, where Herrera and Chief Deputy City Attorney Therese Stewart will discuss the possible legal repercussions of the decision, as well as plans for how the city could handle a potential flurry of same-sex weddings.

Later in the morning, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee is expected to speak.

Daly City resident Thom Watson, who has been with his partner Jeff Tabaco for 10 years, said he will be watching closely at home before heading to San Francisco City Hall for what he considers a historic moment.

He said he hasn't been sleeping well waiting for the high court's decision and has been analyzing what various potential rulings could mean for marriage equality.

"We're in a constant state of fatigue mixed with excitement," he said.

Evan Costner, who organized the annual Berkeley Pride celebration that took place in that city on Monday evening, said a contingent from the Berkeley area is ready to "flock to San Francisco and rally there."

He said Berkeley's pride planning committee had hoped that the Supreme Court would issue a ruling on Monday in time for the annual festival, which had the timely theme, "First comes love, then comes marriage..."

In other parts of the Bay Area, various groups are ready to spring into action once they hear the ruling, including the local LGBT activist group Hearts on Silicon Valley, which is planning to meet at San Jose City Hall at 6 p.m.

Organizers of that event posted on Facebook that there will be speakers and live music at the community gathering at City Hall, which is located at 200 E. Santa Clara St.

Oakland community groups have plans for a celebration at 5:30 p.m. at 19th Street and Telegraph Avenue, with participants convening at that intersection before moving on to dance parties at nearby bars and clubs.

In Concord, a 6:30 p.m. celebration complete with champagne is planned at the Rainbow Community Center, located 2118 Willow Pass Road.

Other events are in the works in Mountain View, Redwood City, Santa Cruz, Vallejo, Fairfield, Guerneville and Healdsburg.

BART Strike Possible As Soon As Monday

Community leaders spoke out this morning near San Francisco's 24th Street BART station in support of BART workers embroiled in contentious labor negotiations that could potentially result in a strike as soon as Monday.

Contracts between BART and its five unions expire on Sunday, and negotiations are at a standstill.

State mediators have been called in, and BART's two largest unions are conducting a strike authorization vote among their members today.

The two unions are Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555, which represents 945 station agents, train operators and foreworkers, and Service Employees International Union Local 1221, which represents 1,430 mechanics, custodians and clerical workers.

Antonette Bryant, a spokeswoman for ATU Local 1555, said a joint statement will be released Wednesday morning detailing the results of the strike vote.

"We are fighting to get a contract," Bryant said.

She said, however, that the union hopes to avoid a strike.

BART spokeswoman Alicia Trost said the agency is also trying to prevent a strike from happening. She said the unions' decision to hold a strike authorization vote today has delayed negotiations until Wednesday.

"We think there is a deal to be had," she said.

The Metropolitan Transportation Commission is working on putting together a contingency plan in case a strike occurs.

Trost said BART is "not at the point of warning our passengers."

The MTC has posted an alert on its website that warns of a possible BART strike as soon as Monday.

The agency is advising commuters to plan ahead and try to work from home, carpool, or telecommute.

Heavy traffic and overcrowded public transit systems are likely in the event of a strike, MTC officials said.

At the union news conference in San Francisco this morning, SEIU Local 1021 spokeswoman Leah Berlanga pointed to a lawsuit filed by the two unions in Alameda County Superior Court on Monday morning in which they allege that BART is failing to bargain in good faith over worker safety.

"BART has not addressed safety issues and proposals we put on the table," Berlanga said.

Among other measures, the unions are demanding improved lighting on the tracks and in the stations.

San Francisco Supervisor David Campos said he stands in solidarity with the workers, and highlighted the importance of safety.

He underscored the case of BART electrician Robert Rhodes, who was killed while working on the 24th Street station tracks in 2001.

"It's only appropriate that we ensure their safety on a daily basis," he said.

Campos called for "reasonable, open, good-faith negotiations."

The supervisor said he doesn't want a strike, but that the safety issues need to be resolved before the unions can agree on a contract.

Trost has previously said that union leaders haven't mentioned safety issues in their own internal communications about the labor talks, instead emphasizing matters such as salaries, benefits and work rules.

Man Fatally Shot In Bernal Heights, No Suspects Arrested

A man in his 20s was fatally shot in San Francisco's Bernal Heights neighborhood early this morning, according to police.

San Francisco police received calls shortly after midnight reporting gunshots heard in the 900 block of Ellsworth Street, near the San Francisco Housing Authority's Alemany Boulevard property.

Police and firefighters responded and located the victim with at least one gunshot wound to his chest.

The victim was transported to San Francisco General Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 12:38 a.m., police said.

No suspects had been arrested in connection with the homicide as of this morning, police said.

Anyone with information about the homicide is asked to call 911, the Police Department's anonymous tip line at (415) 575-4444 or send a tip by text message to TIP411 with "SFPD" in the message.

Fatal Shooting ID

A man who was fatally shot at a bus stop in San Francisco's Hunters Point neighborhood on Monday afternoon has been identified by the medical examiner's office as 19-year-old Jaquan Rice.

Rice, a San Francisco resident, was one of two people shot at about 1 p.m. Monday at West Point and Middle Point roads, police said.

Rice and a female victim were taken to San Francisco General Hospital, where Rice succumbed to his injuries.

The female victim remained at the hospital being treated for injuries that are considered life-threatening, according to police.

No arrests had been made in connection with the shooting as of this morning, police said.

Children At Home During Home Invasion Robbery, Shooting In Bayview District

Two children were inside a residence during a home invasion robbery and shooting in San Francisco's Bayview District this morning, according to a police sergeant.

Police responded to a report of gunfire at 2:25 a.m. in the first block of Elmira Street, just south of Industrial Street, and found two men and a woman with gunshot wounds, San Francisco police Sgt. Dennis Toomer said.

All three were transported to San Francisco General Hospital.

Two of the wounded parties - one of the men and the woman - reside at the home and are between 20 and 30 years old, Toomer said.

The female resident suffered life-threatening injuries and the male resident is expected to survive, according to Toomer.

The two children in the home at the time of the shooting were not harmed, but were taken to San Francisco General Hospital for observation, Toomer said.

Police believe the third person injured in the shooting may be one of the suspects.

One of the residents may have been able to get a hold of the suspects' handgun and wound him with it.

There are two suspects still outstanding and both are described as black men in their 20s, Toomer said.

Anyone with information about the shooting is asked to call 911, the Police Department's anonymous tip line at (415) 575-4444 or send a tip by text message to TIP411 with "SFPD" in the message.

Police Ask For Public's Help In Finding Missing 16-Year-Old Girl

San Francisco police are asking for the public's help in finding a 16-year-old girl who went missing on Monday in the city's North of Panhandle neighborhood.

Gabrielle Spagnola was last seen around 3 p.m. Monday in the 2200 block of Hayes Street.

Spagnola is described as white, 5 feet 6 inches tall and about 120 pounds with brown hair and brown eyes, according to police.

At the time of her disappearance, she was wearing a blue jacket, blue jeans and black shoes, police said.

A photo of Spagnola can be viewed online at

Anyone with information about her whereabouts is asked to call San Francisco police at (415) 553-1071.

City Hall Photo Exhibit Offers Glimpse Into Building New Bay Bridge Span

While work continues on the eastern span of the Bay Bridge, dozens of photographs that document nearly a decade of labor to build the new span are on display at City Hall.

The series of 85 photographs captured by former boilermaker, shipfitter and welder Joseph Blum, 72, are hanging on the walls on the ground floor of City Hall, providing a glimpse of the work that has gone into the $6.3 billion project.

Starting with photos snapped in 2004 and throughout the project's progression into 2012, viewers get a sense of what it takes to scale the cables, weld large metal pieces, hang by harness from atop a tower, and work with heavy machinery - all while donning safety equipment, gloves, goggles and hard hats, often hundreds of feet above the water.

The photographer said he hopes the series shows "the skills, stamina, determination, the courage" that the workers have and use every day.

The color photographs catch the Bay and the growing structure on both the foggy and sunny days, and many feature the San Francisco skyline in the background.

Blum said he did not interfere with the work while getting his shots, but rather "I tried to get as close to the work as possible without endangering myself or others."

The photographs give insight into the footwork, balance, handiwork and intelligence required to build a massive structure, Blum said.

"Every day is a challenge," he said. "It's a lot more cerebral work."

He said he wanted to document the labor process, even if that meant getting into a crane above the bridge. He said he's comfortable at a construction site and not afraid of heights.

The San Francisco Arts Commission put together the show that is on display on the ground floor of City Hall.

The exhibition was initially timed to be on display in conjunction with the anticipated Labor Day weekend opening of the bridge.

However, after faulty bolts were discovered earlier this year, that date could be pushed back.

The new section of the bridge includes a self-anchored suspension span, which covers a 2,047 feet of the bridge east of Yerba Buena Island.

An artist reception will be held at the photo exhibit on July 11 at 5:30 p.m.

The exhibit runs until Sept. 27.


Check out some of our most popular blogs:

     We Built a Stronger SF Economy on Smart Government Investments

     The BART That Could Have Been

     Run For Your Life! (For Fun)

     Love Muni, Hate Muni or Somewhere in Between? Let the SFMTA Know!


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