Thursday Morning News Roundup
Bart Board Will Hear Tips On Avoiding Future Strikes
A consultant who was hired by BART’s board of directors to try to prevent strikes in the future will present her recommendations to the board at their meeting on Thursday.
Among the recommendations in a 224-page report prepared by Rhonda Hilyer of the firm Agreement Dynamics are to start contract talks earlier, use arbitrators and remove abrasive negotiators.
BART’s management and labor unions have had a combative relationship during most of the transit agency’s history and talks last year were so acrimonious that there were two short strikes and a new labor agreement wasn’t ratified until this January, six months after the previous contract expired.
BART normally starts bargaining with its unions three months before their contracts expire but Hilyer said talks should start at least six months before contract talks expire.
Hilyer said the BART board should remove managers with combative and adversarial styles from labor talks and should use “managers who are respected by and have credibility with the unions and the workforce.”
She said, “This is about a style of communication and leadership that is constructive and collaborative.”
Hilyer also said BART should use neutral facilitators and possibly state or federal mediators from the beginning of contract talks rather than bringing them in later when negotiations go bad.
BART General Manager Grace Crunican admitted in a statement that, “Last year’s labor negotiation process was well below the standard the public and our riders expect and deserve” and said Hilyer’s report “makes it clear that mistakes were made during the 2013 labor negotiations process.”
Crunican said, “BART has already begun implementing changes to improve communication with union leaders and tackling important issues,” such as hiring a new assistant general manager of employee relations who oversees both human resources and labor relations.
Appeals Court Says Predator Residency Restriction Must Be Measured By Straight Line
A state appeals court ruled in San Francisco Wednesday that a housing-distance restriction requiring certain sexual predators to live at least one-fourth of a mile away from a school must be measured by a straight line and not by a pedestrian route.
The Court of Appeal ruled in the case of Charles Christman, 70, who was convicted of multiple sex offenses against boys under the age of 15 in public parks and was committed to Atascadero State Hospital for treatment in 1997, according to the court.
Christman was released last year and an agency designated by the California Department of State Hospitals found him a housing placement in Bay Point.
When measured by a straight line, the location is less than one-fourth of a mile from the Willow Cove Elementary School, but when measured by a pedestrian route, the distance is just over one-fourth of a mile.
A state law requires that released offenders classified as sexually violent predators must be housed at least one-fourth of a mile away from schools.
The placement for Christman was challenged by Contra Costa County, represented by the county district attorney’s office.
A three-judge panel of the appeals court unanimously agreed with the county.
Christman’s attorney, Richard Such, said he will ask the appeals court to reconsider the ruling and if necessary will appeal to the California Supreme Court.
“It’s really unfortunate,” Such said. “He has a right to be free in society and it is very difficult for him to find a place to live.”
Officers Shoot, Kill Mountain Lion Suspected In Attack Of 6-Year-Old
A 65-pound male mountain lion thought to be responsible for an attack on a 6-year-old boy in Cupertino earlier this week was shot and killed Wednesday morning near the Picchetti Ranch Zinfandel Trail, California Department Fish and Wildlife officials said.
Two families were hiking on a marked trail Sunday when a mountain lion jumped from a hidden position and attacked the boy, who had hiked only 10 feet ahead of the group.
The victim was transported to the hospital with puncture wounds that were serious but not life threatening. He was released from the hospital Monday.
Officials said wildlife experts and tracking dogs were able to pick up the mountain lion’s scent at the scene of the attack and track it. It was located after a three-day search about 130 yards from the attack site.
The mountain lion was found about 70 feet up a tree, so officers shot and killed it instead of tranquilizing it. Officials said the fall from the tree would have likely killed the animal.
Officials said the cat displayed unusually aggressive behavior while in the tree, crouching and fixating on a wildlife officer. Coupled with its location near the attack site, they believe the behavior suggests the animal was local and connected to the attack.
The CDFW’s wildlife investigation lab will be conducting a full investigation to confirm the mountain lion killed was the one involved in the attack. DNA tests are being conducted using saliva samples taken from the boy’s clothing.
A necropsy will also be conducted, including rabies tests, to assess the health of the cat and gather forensic information.
In some cases, mountain lions can be relocated, but officials said this lion could not be relocated because it attacked a human.
There are an estimated 4,000-6,000 mountain lions living in California.
Mother And Son Who Falsely Obtained Disabled Parking Placards, Sentenced To Serve Disabled Community
A San Francisco mother and her grown son were each sentenced to three years felony probation and 1,000 hours of service assisting the disabled community after they pleaded guilty to felony forgery in a fraudulent disabled placard scheme, the district attorney’s office announced Wednesday.
Guobin Qin, 29, and his mother Qiaoyun Chen, 50, filed false documents with the Department of Motor Vehicles that led to the pair obtaining disabled person placards, according to the Office of District Attorney George Gascón.
The scheme was uncovered following anonymous tips to the DMV. During an investigation, DMV officials discovered that Qin and Chen separately applied for and received placards using a false doctor’s signature and diagnosis that a doctor was treating them for lung disease.
When investigators contacted the doctor, there was no record of either defendant being a patient.
The two San Francisco residents initially pleaded not guilty in July to charges of forgery, perjury, commercial burglary and falsifying documents, according to prosecutors.
Qin and Chen later pleaded guilty and were both sentenced to three years felony probation and 1,000 hours of community service, which must be served assisting the disabled community, according to the district attorney’s office.
Both the mother and her son will also have to pay a $4,100 fine, prosecutors said.
A third person, Yessi Morales, who was arrested on the same charges except for forgery, pleaded not guilty to the charges on July 3.
Morales allegedly submitted seven false applications over four years, prosecutors said.
Two doctors listed on her applications claimed to have never treated her either, according to prosecutors.
TEENS, TEACHER HURT AFTER STRUCK BY VEHICLE
San Mateo police say they do not believe a driver who struck three special needs students and a student teacher Wednesday morning drove on to the sidewalk deliberately.
The reason for the crash remained under investigation Wednesday evening, but police said it does not appear the driver was trying to avoid a hazard in the road when he swerved on to the sidewalk on West Hillsdale
The victims are expected to recover after they were hit while walking on a school field trip in San Mateo, police and school officials said.
The collision was reported at 11:17 a.m. in the 300 block of West Hillsdale Boulevard, police said.
The three male students, 15, 16 and 18, and a female student teacher, 28, of Belmont, were part of a group of about 15 students and five teachers from Hillsdale High School who were walking as part of a supervised field trip, San Mateo Union High School spokeswoman Sheri Costa-Batis said.
The special education classes regularly take walks near the high school to help students learn life skills, Costa-Batis said.
They were about a block from the school when a car driven west on West Hillsdale by a 53-year-old man veered north onto the sidewalk and struck the four pedestrians, police Sgt. Rick Decker said.
The student teacher suffered head trauma and broken bones. The three teen students suffered minor injuries including abrasions and lacerations, police said.
They and the driver were taken to hospitals. None of their injuries are considered life threatening, police said.
City Attorney, Accjc Spar In Hearing On City College Lawsuit
In a lawsuit that could go to trial next month, attorneys for San Francisco and a regional accrediting commission argued at a hearing Wednesday over whether City College of San Francisco has wrongly faced the loss of its accreditation.
San Francisco Superior Court Judge Curtis Karnow heard cross-motions for summary judgment from Deputy City Attorney Thomas Lakritz, as well as Andrew Sclar, an attorney for the Novato-based Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges.
Each attorney spoke for about one hour, presenting statements and answering questions from the judge about the lawsuit and the accreditation process. If Karnow denies both motions, a trial date is set for Oct. 27.
The lawsuit, filed in August 2013 by San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera, claims the ACCJC treated City College unfairly during the accreditation review process.
Herrera’s office also alleges that the ACCJC’s intention to revoke the accreditation of San Francisco City College was motivated by political bias, failed to respect the institution’s right to due process, was tainted by the commission’s conflicts of interest and was the product of failure to follow procedures required by law.
City College was slated to lose its accreditation effective July 31 after the accrediting commission evaluated the school and cited problems with its administration, finances, governance structure and other issues.
Karnow issued an injunction in January preventing the revocation of City College’s accreditation from taking effect until a trial was held.
SFMTA Painter Suspected Of Stealing City’s Gasoline Arrested
A San Francisco Municipal Transportation employee was arrested Friday for allegedly stealing thousands of dollars worth of gasoline from the city, police said Wednesday.
In June, police received a complaint from the SFMTA and began investigating the employee, identified as Osvaldo Lugo, 59, of Lathrop in San Joaquin County, police said.
Investigators discovered that Lugo had allegedly been filling his personal vehicle with the city’s gasoline for the last year, amounting to thousands of dollars in gas, police said.
On Friday police arrested him on suspicion of grand theft and embezzlement. He was booked into county jail.
According to public employee records, Lugo was a painter who was paid $84,451 in 2013.
Parents Of Santa Cruz Man File Wrongful Death Suit In Fatal Big-Rig Accident
The parents of a Santa Cruz man killed in an 11-vehicle accident triggered by big-rig in July on state Highway 17 south of Los Gatos filed a wrongful death lawsuit Tuesday against the rig’s owner and driver, a spokesman said.
Gail-Jean and Doug McGuire, mother and father of 25-year-old Daniel McGuire, filed suit in Superior Court in Monterey County against the Saini Bros Trucking, driver Ravinderpal Singh and three other companies over the July 10 accident, their attorney’s spokesman Ed Vasquez said.
Daniel McGuire died after being partially ejected from his car, which crashed on the highway near Bear Creek Road when the big-rig jackknifed at about 7:50 a.m. July 10, according to the California Highway Patrol.
Of the people in the 11 vehicles involved in the collision, seven were transported to a hospital for treatment and later released, the CHP said.
The CHP’s Multi Disciplinary Accident Investigation Team is handling the investigation of the crash but will need about another two months to complete it since it involved a death and many other factors, Officer Ross Lee said.
McGuire’s parents, represented by San Jose lawyer Robert Allard, want to use the lawsuit to hold the defendant companies accountable for the accident and to improve public safety on the roadways, Vasquez said.
Their suit claims that Singh was operating a tractor-trailer rig with two trailers loaded with 24 tons of top soil when he lost control of the vehicle before colliding with Daniel’s car, resulting in McGuire’s death, Vasquez said.
The plaintiffs alleged that Singh had only about three months experience as a truck driver and that inexperience and the defendants’ failure to screen, monitor and train him contributed to the accident, according to Vasquez.
They also claim that two Salinas firms, Don Chapin Co. Inc. and Aggregates Company Inc., and Gagliasso Trucking Inc. of Santa Clara, named as defendants shared responsibility for the mishap because they employed Saini and Singh to haul the soil from Santa Cruz to the Bay Area, Vasquez said.
The civil complaint argues that overall negligence by the defendants, as well as negligent hiring, supervision, training and retention of the driver, led to the fatal accident.
The suit also mentions Surinder Banwait, the owner of Saini Bros Trucking, as a defendant.
Police Seek Public’s Help In Identifying Indecent Exposure Suspect
San Leandro police are asking for the public’s help in identifying a man who allegedly exposed himself to a female student while she was walking to Bancroft Middle School Wednesday morning.
Police said that at about 7:50 a.m. the man called the student, who didn’t know him, over to a black sedan that was parked in the 1400 block of Bancroft Avenue, several blocks away from the middle school, which is located at 1150 Bancroft Ave.
When the student looked inside the car, she saw the suspect seated in the driver’s seat exposing himself to her, police said.
The girl quickly ran to Bancroft Middle School and reported the incident to school authorities, who then notified police.
Responding officers checked the area for the suspect and his vehicle but were unable to locate him and concluded that he had driven off before they arrived, police said.
Authorities said the suspect is described as a white or Hispanic male in his mid-20s with an average build and a beard. He was wearing a red and black cap and prescription-style glasses.
Police said school resource officers and detectives are working closely with Bancroft Middle School staff members to try to identify any other students who may have witnessed the incident or who may have been approached by the same suspect.
Police said detectives will be checking the area for video surveillance cameras to try to help them identify the suspect.
Reptile Rescue Organization To Seek New Home For Large Snake Found In Pescadero
A snake found under a car outside a school in Pescadero has been taken in by a reptile rescue organization that will try to find it a long-term home, according to the Peninsula Humane Society.
The snake was found under a car outside the Pescadero Elementary and Middle School at 620 North St. around 3:15 p.m. on Friday Sept. 5.
Described as being around 4.5 inches wide and weighing 40 pounds, the snake was captured and turned over the humane society.
While the snake was previously mistakenly identified as a 7-foot-long Burmese python, it has now been reidentified by a reptile expert as a boa constrictor,according to humane society spokesman Scott Delucchi.
The snake is currently in the process of shedding and has been aggressive to handlers, according to Delucchi.
“It’s doing some hissing and striking at the cage it’s being held in when anyone approaches it,” Delucchi said previously.
The humane society has been able to locate a reptile rescue organization, which will be picking up the snake in the next day or two.
The name of the rescue group, which has a property outside of San Mateo County, will not be released, to avoid a large number of public calls and animals, Delucchi said.
CHP Asks Public’s Help Finding Fatal Hit-And-Run Driver
The California Highway Patrol is asking the public to help find a driver who is believed to have struck and killed a bicyclist near Winters in March.
Adrianna Melendez, 23, of Winters, is suspected of hitting 72-year-old Dan Taylor of Alamo on Putah Creek Road a mile east of Interstate Highway 505 around 5 p.m. on March 26.
Taylor was riding in a timed interval race through a long stretch of road that runs between orchards in the area, the CHP said.
He was struck by a vehicle traveling west between 55 and 60 mph that crossed into the eastbound lane. Taylor was propelled over the vehicle before landing in an orchard and died of internal and head injuries, the CHP said.
The vehicle continued traveling into the orchard, almost striking a tree, then went west towards Winters, the CHP said.
Melendez took measures to conceal the fatal collision and left her home approximately on March 28 when she learned law enforcement might be looking for her, CHP Officer Chris Parker said.
There is a $50,000 warrant in Solano County for her arrest. Melendez is 5 feet 3 inches, approximately 265 pounds with brown hair and brown eyes. Anyone with information about her whereabouts is asked to call CHP Officer Chris Parker at 428-2100.
Bicyclist Killed In Collision With Car Identified
A bicyclist struck and killed by a car Tuesday morning in unincorporated Monterey County east of Prunedale was 50-year-old Carlos Alcraz Arroy, according to the Monterey County coroner’s office.
The coroner’s office was not able to determine Arroy’s place of residence, a coroner’s employee said.
At about 6:30 a.m. Tuesday, the California Highway Patrol was dispatched to an area near San Juan Grade and Crazy Horse Canyon roads, where a car had collided with the bicycle Arroy was riding, causing him to suffer fatal injuries, CHP officials said.
D.A. Finds Officers Justified In Firing 29 Shots To Kill Unarmed Suspect In Undercover Operation
Six Santa Clara County law enforcement officers legally defended themselves and others when they fired 29 shots that killed an unarmed suspect in a restaurant parking lot in Sunnyvale last year, according to prosecutors.
The District Attorney’s Office found that the officers were lawfully justified in shooting 34-year-old Juan Carlos Ruelas, who had said he had a gun and appeared to reach to his waistband during an undercover drug arrest operation, Supervising District Attorney James Leonard said.
The six officers, some with fast-shooting semi-automatic handguns, fired two volleys of gunshots in a matter of seconds at Ruelas, who was hit by all 29 bullets they discharged at him, Leonard said.
Police officers have the legal right to use deadly force if they have “an honest and reasonable belief” that they or others faced an imminent bodily threat from the suspect and they had to “do what is necessary to negate that threat,” Leonard said.
Madera Doctor Indicted For Allegedly Distributing Pain Drugs Outside Regular Practice
A Corte Madera doctor has been indicted for allegedly distributing oxycodone and other prescription drugs outside his practice and without a legitimate medical purpose.
A federal grand jury indicted Dr. Michael Roger Chiarottino, 66, last Thursday on 15 counts of distributing controlled substances.
Chiarottino, who is out of custody, was arrested Monday and is scheduled to appear in U.S. District Court in Oakland on Sept. 15 for a review of his $75,000 bail.
The indictment alleged he improperly prescribed oxycodone, hydrocodone, oxymorphone, hydromorphone and methadone. The drugs are prescribed to relieve severe pain.
The indictment alleges 14 counts of distributing Schedule II controlled substances, and the potential penalty on each count is 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine. The potential penalty for one count of distributing a Schedule III controlled substance is 10 years in prison and a $500,000 fine.
In August 2011, the Medical Board of California began investigating allegations that Chiarottino was prescribing highly addictive and dangerous narcotics and an unusual combination of drugs to patients.
Both Chiarottino and his patients objected to subpoenas for the patients’ medical records, but the state Court of Appeal in the First Appellate District upheld the subpoenas.
Police Investigate Groping Of Woman Last Weekend
Police are investigating a sexual assault last weekend in South San Francisco, where a woman reported a man groped her.
Police said the 24-year-old victim was in the 300 block of Grand Avenue around 4:30 a.m. Sunday when a man approached her from behind, wrapped his arms around her and groped both of her breasts.
The suspect then fled the area.
The woman described the man as 20 to 25 years old, about 5 feet 3 inches tall and about 130 pounds. She said he had a thin build and was wearing a black jacket, black skinny pants, a black beanie and black shoes.
Fleet Week With Blue Angels, Ship Parade Coming Next Month
Fleet Week is returning to form when it comes to San Francisco next month.
City and military officials held a news conference Wednesday to discuss the various events planned at this year’s Fleet Week, which will take place from Oct. 6-13.
The annual weeklong celebration of San Francisco’s history of military service and maritime tradition will again host the U.S. Navy’s Blue Angels air show and the Parade of Ships, which were both canceled in 2013 because of federal budget cuts.
The Navy’s newest ship, the USS America, will be commissioned during the event.
Like last year’s toned-down Fleet Week, this year’s events will include training exercises to help local first responders and military service members prepare for and respond to emergencies.
This year’s joint activities will include urban search and rescue and medical trauma training and a senior leaders seminar.
San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee said Fleet Week has transformed into more than just a time to pay tribute to members of the U.S. Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard.
Lee said the disaster response and emergency drills are becoming a more important part of the week and the exercises provide valuable training to first responders and armed service personnel.
“They are all part of what we believe may be absolutely necessary to save lives and prevent casualties should a major event come here,” he said.