Thursday Morning News Roundup
Schaaf Prioritizes Safety In Victory Speech
Standing in front of a giant car shaped like a snail and flanked by a throng of supporters holding campaign signs, Mayor-elect Libby Schaaf said she was full of “love” and “hope” for the city of Oakland.
The councilwoman claimed victory early Wednesday morning in the city’s 15-candidate mayoral race. Schaaf had large leads over the other candidates as initial results came in with nearly 63 percent of the vote.
Councilwoman Rebecca Kaplan came in second with 37.2 percent of the vote as of early Wednesday morning. Mayor Jean Quan conceded around noon and congratulated Schaaf on her victory.
“(Schaaf) inherits a city where crime is down, unemployment is down, city finances are strong, police reforms are near completion, and the economic renaissance is well under way,” Quan said in a statement. “I have been proud to be Oakland’s first woman and Asian-American mayor, and I thank Oaklanders for the opportunity to bring the city through these tough times.”
Schaaf said she would immediately focus on improving safety in the city, taking a “holistic view” to reduce crime that includes more policing, “better more successful” crime intervention and prevention programs, job opportunities and a stronger education system.
“Yes, absolutely we need more police, but we also need better policing…We need to go after those root causes of crime and that’s jobs, better wages – which I’m very excited about the victory of Measure FF so Oaklanders are getting a raise this year,” Schaaf said to applause from the crowd. “Also something I’m very passionate about is better educational outcomes for our children, which is part of the public safety equation.”
Liccardo Declares Victory In Mayor’s Race Against Cortese But Race Still Undecided
San Jose City Councilman Sam Liccardo declared victory Wednesday morning in the race to become the city’s next mayor over Santa Clara County Supervisor Dave Cortese but the race remains to close to call.
In a news conference at his campaign headquarters, Liccardo was joined by his wife Jessica Garcia-Kohl and made the announcement when asked by a reporter, Liccardo’s campaign manager Ragan Henninger said.
The race could be decided by absentee ballots turned in at the polls that will be counted Wednesday.
Liccardo, the outgoing member of the City Council for District 3, had 55,641 votes, or 51 percent, to 53,465, or 49 percent, for Cortese, with all precincts reporting as of Wednesday afternoon.
“We have maintained our lead throughout the night and we’re confident we’ll continue that,” Henninger said.
A major issue in the mayoral campaign was public safety, specifically how to fund additional police officers for a city force that has fallen by about 400 sworn officers in the past several years due to retirements and resignations.
The winner of the contest will determine the shape of policies espoused by Liccardo and termed-out Mayor Chuck Reed — controversial among police officers and firefighters — about controlling pensions paid to the union-represented police and fire departments.
Cortese received heavy support from the San Jose Police Officers’ Association, which represents police and firefighters in labor contract negotiations with the city.
Judge Admonished For Demeaning References To Parents In Family Law Cases
Solano County Superior Court Judge Daniel Healy was publicly admonished by a state commission Wednesday for referring to parents in family law cases with denigrating words such as “rotten,” “stupid and sluggish,” and “total human disaster.”
The admonition was issued in a nine-page decision by the San Francisco-based state Commission on Judicial Performance.
The commission said Healy’s “multiple denigrating and undignified remarks” to parents in six different cases in 2012 and 2013 violated the California Code of Judicial Ethics, which requires judges to be “patient, courteous and dignified” toward litigants.
Healy, 54, a former criminal defense lawyer, was elected by county voters to Superior Court in 2010 and took office in January 2011.
He is no longer assigned to family law cases and now handles criminal cases at the court’s Vallejo branch, according to the court.
In one family law case in 2013, the commission said, Healy referred to a mother accused of driving while intoxicated with her child in the car as “rotten,” “a train wreck,” a “liar” and a “total human disaster.”
The commission said Healy also tried to intervene, unsuccessfully, with another judge to urge further investigation before the father in that same case was made subject to an arrest warrant for alleged domestic violence.
Healy’s attempt to influence another judge “constituted a failure to uphold the integrity and independence of the judiciary,” the commission said.
In another case in 2012, according to the ruling, Healy told a mother, “If you are exposing your daughter to one-fifth of the attitude I’m getting from you right now, you might as well have her start walking the streets as a hooker.”
A public admonition is the middle of five possible punishments the commission can impose. The two more severe punishments are public censure or removal from office, and the two lesser sanctions are a private advisory letter or private admonition.
The commission said that Healy had acknowledged at a hearing before the commission that his remarks were improper, but argued that “blunt and evocative language” was sometimes necessary to make parents aware of their situation and the alleged harm to their children.
Voters Approve Transportation Tax Measure
Two years after a similar measure failed by only a small number of votes, Alameda County voters have approved a measure that will double the county’s transportation sales tax to pay for a variety of improvement projects.
Measure BB, which needed a two-thirds majority to pass, got nearly 70 percent of the vote in final semi-official returns in Tuesday’s election, prompting supporters to declare victory Wednesday.
Alameda County Supervisor Scott Haggerty, who chairs the county’s Transportation Commission, said in a statement, “Passing Measure BB is a tremendous accomplishment, one that will be seen as a game changer for Alameda County and the Bay Area for decades to come.”
Haggerty said, “Yesterday, Alameda County voters said yes to improving our roads, yes to better BART and buses, yes to supporting the mobility of students and seniors, yes to a cleaner and more sustainable transportation system and yes to creating 150,000 good- quality local jobs.”
In 2012, Measure B, which would have doubled the transportation tax permanently, received 66.53 percent of the vote but fell about 721 votes short of the two-thirds majority needed for approval.
In order to address the concerns of those who voted against the 2012 measure, transportation officials tweaked Measure BB so that it expires in 30 years, in 2045, and included strict accountability measures to ensure that the money raised by the tax is spent on approved projects.
Proponents said Measure BB will generate nearly $8 billion for important transportation improvements over the next 30 years, stimulate $20 billion of economic activity in the region and create nearly 150,000 jobs.
Former CFO Pleads Guilty To Four Counts, Admits Embezzling $928,000 From Nonprofit Group
The former chief financial officer of a nonprofit trade association has pleaded guilty in federal court in San Francisco to four felony counts and admitted to embezzling more than $928,000.
Robert Bradley Strahan, 51, of San Francisco, entered the plea before U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson on Monday. He will be sentenced on Feb. 9.
Publicly available documents identify Strahan as chief financial officer of the Marine Exchange of the San Francisco Bay Region, a nonprofit group that collects and analyzes ship traffic data, between 2012 and 2014.
Strahan worked for the nonprofit association from December 2007 until April 28, 2014, first as a contractor and then as chief financial officer.
In a written plea agreement filed in court, he admitted to embezzling in excess of $928,000.
Strahan said in the agreement that he cashed checks from the group’s bank account amounting to $551,511 for his own benefit; bought $257,638 worth of personal items with the organization’s credit cards; and overpaid an acquaintance he had hired by about $19,000.
He pleaded guilty to two counts of wire fraud in sending the group’s board of director fraudulent emails in 2012 and 2013; one count of mail fraud in receiving a package bought with an office credit card in 2014; and one count of tax evasion in understating his income for 2010.
The four counts each carry maximum potential sentences of five to 20 years in prison.
Strahan agreed in the plea agreement to pay restitution of $928,000.
Strahan was arrested on May 30 and has been in custody since then, according to U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag.
San Quentin Death Row Inmate Dies Of Natural Causes
A former Los Angeles police officer and death row inmate at San Quentin State Prison died of natural causes in a hospital early Wednesday morning, some two decades after he was sentenced to death.
L.A. County native and San Quentin inmate Steven Homick, 74, was pronounced dead in a Bay Area hospital a short time before 12:30 a.m., according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
An L.A. County jury sentenced Homick to death in 1995 for the murder-for-hire killings of 67-year-old Gerald Woodman and his wife, 63-year-old Vera Woodman, in a garage at their condominium in the Brentwood neighborhood of Los Angeles after a family celebration of Yom Kippur in 1985.
Prosecutors say the couple’s two sons hired Homick and his brother, Robert Homick to kill their parents. The slayings came to be known in the media as the “Yom Kippur murders” and the “ninja murders.”
Homick was one of six people arrested in connection with the murders and the only defendant sentenced to death in the case.
Since California reinstated capital punishment in 1978, 65 death row inmates have died from natural causes, according to the CDCR.
Reputed Gang Member Convicted Of Murdering Teen In Newark
A reputed gang member has been convicted of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder for the fatal stabbing of 17-year-old Newark High School student and football star Justice Afoa four years ago.
Prosecutor Elgin Lowe alleged that Rafael Tovar, a 33-year-old batch mixer from Newark, was one of two people who fatally stabbed Afoa near the intersection of Cedar Boulevard and Birch Street in Newark at about 3:30 p.m. on Dec. 15, 2010.
Afoa was a defensive lineman at Newark Memorial High School and made second team all-league in the Mission Valley Athletic League in the 2009 season.
In addition to being convicted of murder and conspiracy to commit murder by an Alameda County Superior Court jury in Hayward on Monday, Tovar was found guilty of committing the crimes to benefit a criminal street gang.
Lowe alleged that Daniel Howard, a 32-year-old trucker from Fremont, was the other person who fatally stabbed Afoa.
Howard was convicted last May 31 of first-degree murder and committing the crime to benefit a gang. He also was convicted of two counts of premeditated attempted murder for trying to kill his girlfriend and her unborn child in a separate incident in Fremont on Nov. 25, 2012.
Howard was sentenced to 70 years to life in state prison last June 27.
Tovar’s sister Daniela Guzman, 21, of Newark, is also charged with murder in connection with Afoa’s death and is scheduled to stand trial on Dec. 10.
Four Teens Injured In Two Separate Shootings Tuesday Night, No Arrests
Four teens were injured in two separate shootings that were reported about a minute apart in Richmond on Tuesday evening, a police spokeswoman said Wednesday.
Officers responded to a report of shots fired at McBryde Avenue and 28th Street at 6:53 p.m., Sgt. Nicole Abetkov said.
As officers were arriving to the scene they heard gunshots and were told by witnesses that someone was shooting at a crowd of people, Abetkov said.
It appears two people approached the crowd and one of them opened fire, according to Abetkov.
A short time later, a 16-year-old boy suffering from a gunshot wound to the lower torso showed up to Doctor’s Medical Center in San Pablo, she said.
The teen suffered injuries not considered life-threatening, Abetkov said.
Then at 6:54 p.m., officers responded to a report of shots being fired at 15th Street and Coalinga Avenue.
Two male teenagers were found suffering from gunshot wounds and taken to hospitals for injuries not believed to be life-threatening, Abetkov said.
The suspect or suspects may have been in a black SUV, she said.
At about 7:10 p.m., a 16-year-old girl suffering from a gunshot wound to her hip arrived to Kaiser Permanente Richmond Medical Center, according to Abetkov.
The girl told police that she was near Belding-Garcia Park around the time the second shooting occurred, she said.
She was in serious but stable condition as of Tuesday night, according to Abetkov.
No arrests were made in either shooting and no suspect descriptions were available Wednesday afternoon.
Two Men Injured In Hash Oil Explosion Remain In Critical Condition
Two men who were injured in a hash oil explosion that destroyed a Walnut Creek apartment on Halloween remain hospitalized in critical condition, a fire official said Wednesday.
Fire Marshal Robert Marshall of the Contra Costa County Fire Protection District said that while the men are still listed in critical condition, medical providers are now “a little more optimistic about their survival.”
The two were injured in an explosion at an apartment within a complex in the 1500 block of Sunnyvale Avenue around 10 a.m. Friday, according to fire officials.
Both victims were airlifted to the University of California at Davis’s Burn Center in Sacramento.
A neighbor was also treated for minor injuries suffered in the blast.
Fire officials said the explosion and fire left the six-unit apartment complex uninhabitable, displacing an undisclosed number of residents.
The American Red Cross set up a shelter on Friday for the displaced residents.
Police and fire investigators continue to investigate the explosion, which resulted from a marijuana and hash oil drug extraction manufacturing process, according to police.
Surfer Who Died At Linda Mar Beach Identified
A man who died while surfing at Linda Mar Beach in Pacifica on Monday was identified as 60-year-old Thomas Ormsby, according to the San Mateo County coroner’s bureau.
Ormsby, a Pacifica resident, was surfing with his son at about 9:30 a.m. when he died.
Surfers at the beach told Pacifica police that they saw a surfboard fly into the air and then saw Ormsby floating in the water. They pulled him back to shore and called for help.
Rescue crews arrived and took him to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead a short time later.
Police initially reported that Ormsby had drowned, but coroner’s officials said that has not yet been confirmed.
While he was surfing nearby, Ormsby’s son was not nearby when the accident happened and did not see how he died.
Sea Otter Pup Rescued In San Mateo County Transferred To Chicago Aquarium
An orphaned baby otter found stranded at a San Mateo County beach in September is now living at a Chicago aquarium where it is receiving round-the-clock care and learning how to be an otter, Monterey Bay Aquarium officials said Wednesday.
The roughly month-old otter, referred to as Pup 681, was found on Sept. 30 by a passerby who heard the animal’s cries while walking near Coastways Beach in San Mateo County near the Santa Cruz County line, according to the aquarium.
“On arrival at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, 681 weighed 1 kg, which is tiny for a newborn sea otter, and she had been separated from mom for at least 16 hours,” said Karl Mayer, Animal Care Coordinator for the aquarium’s sea otter program.
The aquarium later reached out to Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium, one of only a handful of facilities in the United States equipped to provide the care needed to ensure a stranded sea otter pup’s survival, according to aquarium officials.
“It truly takes a village to rehabilitate a young sea otter,” Tim Binder, Vice President of Animal Collections at the Shedd Aquarium, said in a statement. “Our animal care team is teaching the pup how to be an otter.”
Since being transferred to the Chicago facility late last month, the pup is thriving and reaching milestones every day such as taking formula from a bottle, eating solid foods including shrimp and clams and climbing onto towels to be groomed.
More than 700 sea otters – including injured animals and orphaned pups like Pup 681 — have been rescued by the Monterey Bay Aquarium over the past 25 years and treated and released as part of the aquarium’s Sea Otter Program.
Delaware Man Found Dead Outside Bank Tuesday Night
A 56-year-old man was found dead outside of a bank in Richmond on Tuesday night, a police spokeswoman said.
Officers responded to a report of a male down in front of Mechanics Bank at 3170 Hilltop Mall Road around 9:20 p.m., Sgt. Nicole Abetkov said.
Callers told police that the man appeared to be extremely intoxicated, she said.
Arriving officers found the man suffering from a head wound and he was pronounced dead at the scene, according to Abetkov.
An investigation indicated that foul play did not play a factor in the death, she said.
The Contra Costa County coroner’s office identified the man as Stephen Uhrick of Newark, Delaware.
Man Suspected Of Shooting Into Jiffy Lube With Pellet Gun Arrested
A 26-year-old man suspected of shooting into a Jiffy Lube during business hours with a pellet gun last week has been arrested, police announced Wednesday.
Palo Alto resident Junwei Gu allegedly shot at the business at 4195 El Camino Real from the balcony of his condominium facing the shop on Oct. 30, police said.
Officers responded to a call from the Jiffy Lube around 10:50 a.m. when the incident occurred.
Arriving officers searched the area and detained Gu a short time later as he was leaving his home, according to police.
An investigation revealed that Gu allegedly shot multiple .177-caliber rounds 65 feet from his balcony toward the Jiffy Lube, police said.
The rounds struck signs at the business and narrowly missed an employee, according to police.
A customer’s car also sustained minor damage from the shooting, police said.
Officers found the 8-inch pellet gun, which is powered by a carbon dioxide cartridge, inside Gu’s home and collected it as evidence.
Gu was arrested and booked into Santa Clara County Main Jail on suspicion of felony assault with a deadly weapon, a charge stemming from the potential injury the employee could have faced, police said.
Man Charged With Murder In Fatal East Oakland Shooting
A 20-year-old man has been charged with murder for the fatal shooting of another man inside a residence in East Oakland Friday afternoon, authorities said Wednesday.
Damian Joseph is accused of shooting and killing 21-year-old Jamal Cheeks at a home in the 2000 block of 22nd Avenue at about 3:55 p.m. on Friday.
Emergency responders tried to revive Cheeks but he was pronounced dead at the scene.
Oakland police Officer Phong Tran said in a probable cause statement that Joseph was identified by witnesses as the person who was armed with a semi-automatic firearm and shot and killed Cheeks.
Tran said when police arrested and interviewed Joseph a short time after the shooting he said he was unaware that the weapon was loaded when he was “playing” with the firearm and “accidentally” shot Cheeks.
Joseph, who is being held without bail, was arraigned on Tuesday and is scheduled to return to Alameda County Superior Court on Dec. 1 to enter a plea.
Pedestrian Seriously Injured In North Beach Collision
A pedestrian was seriously injured Wednesday night in a vehicle collision in North Beach, according to San Francisco police.
The collision at Columbus and Green streets was reported at 9:20 p.m., according to police.
The pedestrian was taken to San Francisco General Hospital with life-threatening injuries.
The driver remained at the scene and the collision’s cause remains under investigation, police said.
Santa Cruz: Woman Dies While In Custody In County Jail
A 65-year-old woman died while in custody in county jail in Santa Cruz early Wednesday morning, sheriff’s officials said.
The woman, whose name has not been released, was found unresponsive in a cell at the county jail at 259 Water St. during a safety check around 4:55 a.m., according to Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Sgt. Kelly Kent.
A correctional officer and medical staff performed CPR on the woman until an ambulance arrived.
She was pronounced dead at 5:24 a.m., sheriff’s officials said.
Coroner’s investigators responded and determined that the woman died “due to probable natural causes,” according to a sheriff’s office statement.
Sheriff’s officials said no criminal activity or suspicious circumstances are suspected in connection with the death.
An autopsy will be conducted to determine the cause and manner of the woman’s death.
The inmate was booked into the jail on Monday for a warrant arrest.
Security Guard Injured In Exchange Of Gunfire
A security guard was shot Wednesday outside a Starbucks in Antioch after he drew a weapon and began to fire at a suspect involved in an argument, according to police.
The shooting was reported around 2:09 p.m. behind the Starbucks at 1896 A St., according to police.
Officers found a security guard at the scene with one gunshot wound.
Witnesses said the security guard had seen an argument at a nearby bus, drawn his own weapon and fired at a suspect before being shot himself.
He was then pulled into a nearby business.
A suspect was found a short distance away with a firearm and taken into custody. The security guard was taken to a hospital and is expected to make a full recovery.