Thursday Morning News Roundup

New Stadium For Raiders Remains Possible After Investor Is Added

The possibility of building a new football stadium for the Oakland Raiders adjacent to the current O.co Coliseum remains alive after the last-minute addition of financial adviser Floyd Kephart to a group of investors who want to develop the site.

A planning team has been trying for two years to get Oakland’s Coliseum City project off the ground.

Plans call for at least one new sports stadium at the Coliseum complex plus housing, retail stores, hotels and housing.

The planning team’s exclusive negotiating agreement with the city Oakland was set to expire on Tuesday but the City Council voted on Tuesday to grant the group a 90-day extension after it added Kephart, the chairman of the board of Renaissance Companies, a San Diego firm that advises hedge funds, private equity groups and financial institutions.

The group hopes to name a developer for the site within 60 days, according to City Councilman Larry Reid, who represents the East Oakland area where the Coliseum is located and previously was skeptical that the planning group could follow through on its development plans.

“The team previously didn’t have the capacity to do this but Mr. Kephart and his team have the wherewithal to move this forward,” Reid said Wednesday.

Oakland Mayor Jean Quan said in a statement that the addition of Kephart and the 90-day extension is “an important step forward in the work we kicked off three years ago, when my administration began the process of developing the master plan and environmental impact report for Coliseum City.”

The city envisions up to three new sports venues at the site: a new football stadium for the Raiders, a new baseball park for the A’s and a new arena for Warriors basketball games and other events. But so far only the Raiders have expressed interest in participating in the Coliseum City project, although A’s owner Lew Wolff has said he might be interested in a development project at the site if he could control it.

Uberx Drivers Rally Outside Uber Headquarters, Demand Fair Pay

Dozens of Uber drivers held a rally in front of the company’s headquarters in San Francisco Wednesday afternoon to protest what they say are unfair wages resulting from Uber policies that set impossibly low fares in an effort to out-price their competitors.

The drivers gathered on Market Street holding signs that read “Uber Drivers Unite”chanting “Uber, Uber you can’t hide, we can see your greedy side.”

Drivers in other major cities such as Santa Monica and London, who disagree with Uber’s driver policies as well, joined the protesters.

Many of the drivers who showed up were greeted by passing Uber drivers who slowed down and honked as they passed the Uber headquarters at 1455 Market St.

UberX driver and longtime San Francisco resident Jean Remy said he began driving for Uber just over a year ago. He had quit his other jobs because he was making a nice salary driving for the company.

Remy said he was making about $300 a day for a seven hour shift, before taxes and expenses, such as gas, maintenance and insurance.

Now, for that same seven-hour shift, Remy said he’d make about $175, which comes to about $25 per hour before taxes and expenses.

Drivers with Uber are not considered employees, instead they are considered independent contractors, which allows them to make their own hours, but Remy said it also means they receive little to no respect from the company.

“We don’t have a voice,” Remy said.

In a statement released by Uber, the company said that it “powers entrepreneurship by providing the tools to build a small business. The thousands of drivers driving on the platform at this moment are a testament to that opportunity.”

The recent fare cuts have also meant that some drivers are staying behind the wheel twice as long to make the same income, according to Remy and other drivers at the protest, which raises safety concerns for drivers and passengers alike.

Bail For SF Brothers Suspected In Mission District Murder Set At $3 Million Each

A San Francisco Superior Court judge set bail at $3 million a piece Wednesday for two San Francisco brothers arrested Sunday in connection with the stabbing death of a man last month in the Mission District.

Luis Gutierrez, 21, and Javier Gutierrez, 26, appeared together in court.

The two brothers were arrested Sunday on suspicion of murder, police said.

The two brothers allegedly stabbed 20-year-old Ronnie Goodman to death on the corner of Capp and 24th streets, about a block from the 24th Street BART station, at 11:49 p.m. on Sept. 9, police said.

Goodman was taken to San Francisco General Hospital, where he died from his wounds, police said.

Both brothers are facing charges of murder, torture, assault with a deadly weapon and use of a deadly weapon, according to Max Szabo, a spokesman for the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office.

Javier Gutierrez is additionally charged with assault with a less-lethal weapon, and assault with force likely to cause great bodily injury, according to Szabo.

Police released video footage from a surveillance camera showing two males running down a graffiti-covered street after the stabbing, and received numerous calls from the public, police said.

Judge Tracie Brown set bail at $3 million each after stating that the brothers are suspected of a “willful and deliberate” attack on the victim.

The two brothers are scheduled to enter a plea on Friday at 9 a.m., according to Brown.

Three MS-13 Gang Members Sentenced To 27 Years For 2010 Daly City Murder

Three MS-13 gang members were sentenced to 27 years in prison Wednesday morning for the 2010 murder of a cook in Daly City when they mistook him for a rival gang member, federal prosecutors said.

Davie Jimmy Mejia-Sensente, 31, Carlos Mejia-Quintanilla, 25, and Luis Amilar-Zanus, 35, pleaded guilty in July of the June 21, 2010, murder of Alexander Temaj-Castanon after he got off a bus in Daly City.

The three defendants joined the La Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13, gang in El Salvador more than a decade ago. The gang has members all over North and Central America, including in Mexico, Honduras, El Salvador and the U.S.

Federal investigators believe that MS-13 gangs based in the U.S. regularly communicate with gang leaders in Central America to coordinate drug and weapons trafficking.

One rule of the gang is that members must seek out and kill rival gang members, including their principal rivals in the Northern California area, the Nortenos, according to prosecutors.

It was because Temaj-Castanon, a cook at Baby Blues BBQ in San Francisco’s Bernal Heights neighborhood, looked like a Norteno member that the three killers targeted him on a 14-Mission bus to Daly City as he was riding home from work.

The three men followed Temaj-Castanon off the bus just after midnight near Mission Street and San Jose Avenue and, after waiting until no one was around, Mejia-Quintanilla took a gun from Mejia-Sensente’s backpack and shot Temaj-Castanon, knocking him to the ground.

Mejia-Sensente took the gun and shot him again, prosecutors said. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Police investigated the murder for months, finally arresting Mejia-Sensente, Mejia-Quintanilla, and Luis Amilar-Zanus in September. They were indicted by a federal grand jury in 2011.

They pleaded guilty in July to conspiracy and racketeering charges for their involvement in MS-13, murder, and using a firearm to further the racketeering conspiracy. Mejia-Sensente also pleaded guilty to being an illegal alien in possession of ammunition and Amilar-Zanas, an MS-13 member since 1991, pleaded guilty to illegally re-entering the U.S. after being deported, prosecutors said.

Two Suspects Sought In Stanford Shopping Center Jewelry

A man and woman robbed a jewelry store in Palo Alto at gunpoint Wednesday afternoon, escaping with several valuable wristwatches, according to police.

Police received a 911 call reporting the robbery at Gleim the Jeweler at the Stanford Shopping Center at 180 El Camino Real just before 4:30 p.m.

Officers responded immediately but could not locate the suspects.

Store employees told police the female suspect had entered the store and asked to see some wristwatches.

Once the employee opened the case, the male suspect entered the store with a gun and ordered the three employees to get down on to the ground.

The woman also pulled out a gun, went behind the counter and put around 25 high-end watches in her purse, before both suspects fled on foot.

No customers were present during the robbery and no one was injured.

Police have released a surveillance video image of the male suspect and hope to have an image of the female suspect by today.

Boil Water Notice Remains In Effect For 300 Homes Where E. Coli Bacteria Was Detected

Three people have reported becoming ill in a small area in north San Jose where the San Jose Water Co. detected E coli. bacteria and issued a notice last Friday asking people to boil their tap water before drinking it, a company spokesman said Wednesday.

The “boil water notice” issued to residents of 300 homes whose water might be contaminated could be lifted by this Friday or Saturday as the company works to rid the water of the bacteria, water company spokesman John
Tang said.

The three people reported having stomach problems, among the symptoms of some strains of the bacteria along with vomiting and diarrhea, and the company recommended they seek medical attention, Tang said.

The notice, delivered to customers in a three-square block area of northern San Jose close to Milpitas as a precaution, calls for people to boil drinking water for at least one minute to kill the bacteria but permits them to continue to use the water in toilets and for washing, Tang said.

The warning was issued after evidence of E coli., based on water samples, was found in a water main leading to approximately 300 homes on Lisbon Drive, Lisbon Court, Madrid Drive and Madrid Court, Sydney Drive and Sydney Court and Rowley Drive in north San Jose, according to Tang.

Water company officials are not sure how the water became contaminated, but work crews had been replacing a water main pipe in the area and it is possible that a squirrel or another animal got into the pipe and defecated or became stuck inside and spread the bacteria, he said.

The company has had crews flush water out of the main, pour chlorine inside to disinfect it and then take samples to see if any trace of E. coli remained, according to Tang.

5 Indicted In Bid Rigging Scheme In Sf, San Mateo Co.

Five real estate investors accused of rigging bids at foreclosure auctions in San Francisco and San Mateo County have been indicted in federal court in San Francisco, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

The indictment filed Tuesday charges Northern California real estate investors Joseph Giraudo, Raymond Grinsell, Kevin Cullinane, James Appenrodt, and Abraham Farag with participating in conspiracies to defraud mortgage holders and others through bid rigging and mail fraud.

Beginning in August 2008 and continuing through January 2011, prosecutors allege the defendants rigged dozens of public auctions in San Mateo County and three of the five men – Giraudo, Grinsell and Appenrodt – engaged in bid rigging in San Francisco County as well.

The defendants allegedly agreed to refrain from bidding or to stop bidding on certain properties that were for sale at public auctions, the indictment alleges. They would designate which among them would win certain properties and then buy those properties at an artificially deflated price.

Those who didn’t bid on the properties received payoffs, prosecutors said.

“These defendants corrupted the public foreclosure auctions in San Mateo and San Francisco counties, and they did so to line their pockets with money that rightfully belonged to mortgage holders and others,” Deputy Assistant Attorney Brent Snyder said.

To date, 47 people have agreed to plead or have pleaded guilty to charges of bid rigging and fraud at public foreclosure auctions in Northern California as part of the U.S. Attorney’s Antitrust Division’s criminal enforcement program.

Beloved Giraffe Euthanized At Six Flags

Beloved giraffe Nairobi was euthanized at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom after living a long life in the amusement park, representatives said Wednesday.

Park officials said the 25-year-old giraffe’s quality of life had diminished greatly due to her advanced age. She died Tuesday after outliving nearly 90 percent of other female giraffes in her subspecies under human care, which typically live in their late teens or early 20s.

Standing 18 feet tall, the 1,600-pound animal was a favorite among staff and guests, park president Don McCoy said.

“Her elegance and stately manner, coupled with her quiet demeanor made her a great ambassador of her species,” McCoy said in a statement. “She will be sorely missed by everyone here.”

Nairobi was a reticulated giraffe, the most commonly known of the nine subspecies of giraffe. The species is characterized by the unique mosaic patterns of their fur, park representatives said.

As with all giraffe species, park officials said reticulated giraffe are considered endangered because of poaching and increased human encroachment.

Nairobi was born in the park and bore no offspring. Park representatives said she would be remembered as the most independent and largest of her herd, which included two other females and a male, and was fond of green onions and leafy vegetation.

Man Sentenced To 5 Years For Choking Health Care Worker

A transient San Francisco resident was sentenced Wednesday in San Mateo County Superior Court to five years in prison for choking a health care worker who had provided him with housing, San Mateo County prosecutors said.

Timothy Page Seith, 53, pleaded no contest on Sept. 4 to charges of assault by means of force likely to produce great bodily injury and making criminal threats. Prosecutors said they dismissed charges of attempted murder and dissuading a witness as part of a plea bargain.

A health care worker reportedly met Seith at a Veterans Administration hospital and invited him to spend a couple of weeks at her home because she knew he was homeless, according to the district attorney’s office.

The woman came home on Nov. 27, 2013, and Seith reportedly became upset because she didn’t appreciate the house cleaning he had done for her.

Prosecutors said Seith became angry and choked the woman with his hands and his arm, telling her he was going to kill her.

The woman broke free and tried to call 911, but prosecutors said Seith knocked the phone out of her hands and started to choke her again. The woman was able to break free and run away. Prosecutors said police responded and arrested Seith nearby.

Judge Jonathan Karesh sentenced Seith to five years in prison without the possibility of parole — two years for assault by means of force and three years for inflicting great bodily injury.

Crews Control Blaze At Suspected Pot Grow House

Crews have controlled a fire that destroyed part of a suspected marijuana grow house in Bay Point Wednesday afternoon, Contra Costa County Fire Protection District officials said.

The one-alarm fire was reported at a home in the 200 block of Summerfield Drive around 12:35 p.m., Fire Marshal Robert Marshall said.

Marshall said the home is believed to be the site of a marijuana grow operation and that illegal electrical wiring was found in the home.

He said the blaze gutted the home’s garage but he did not know whether it spread to other parts of the house.

Firefighters were able to get the fire under control around 1 p.m., Marshall said.

No residents were found inside the home and no injuries were reported.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.