Friday Morning News Roundup
San Jose Loses MLB Antitrust Appeal, Vows Further Appeal To Supreme Court
The city of San Jose lost a bid to a federal appeals court in San Francisco Thursday to challenge Major League Baseball’s nearly-century-old exemption from antitrust laws.
San Jose is seeking to claim in a 2013 lawsuit that the MLB violated antitrust laws by allegedly delaying and blocking a possible move by the Oakland A’s to San Jose.
But a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously said MLB is protected from the suit by the precedent set by three U.S. Supreme Court decisions that established and affirmed that the business of professional baseball is exempt from antitrust laws.
Circuit Judge Alex Kozinski wrote in the court’s decision that baseball’s exemption “is one of federal law’s most enduring anomalies,” but said only the Supreme Court or Congress can change the precedent.
“Like Casey, San Jose has struck out here,” Kozinski wrote.
The court upheld a federal trial judge’s dismissal of the lawsuit. San Jose unsuccessfully argued in its appeal that the exemption should be interpreted narrowly to allow its lawsuit to proceed.
The exception was first established by the high court in 1922 and reaffirmed in decisions in 1953 and 1972.
San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo and the city’s lawyers said San Jose will appeal to the high court.
“When the City Council decided to pursue this lawsuit, we knew that success would likely require a ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court, because only the Supreme Court can revisit its century-old decision that created an anti-trust exemption that no American industry other than Major League Baseball enjoys,” Licccardo said.
Liccardo said taxpayers aren’t paying for the lawsuit because the lawyers representing the city are working on a contingency basis.
Jury Finds Truck Driver Who Fatally Struck 24-Year-Old Bicyclist In SOMA Negligent
A San Francisco Superior Court jury Thursday found the driver of a big rig truck negligent for striking and killing a 24-year-old woman riding her bicycle in San Francisco’s South of Market neighborhood in 2013.
Amelie Le Moullac, who lived in San Francisco and worked at the San Francisco office of the marketing firm Voce Communications, was killed during her morning commute on Aug. 14, 2013 when a truck made a right turn and struck her at the corner of Sixth and Folsom streets.
The trial of a wrongful death suit file by the Le Moullac family against Milpitas-based Daylight Foods Inc., the produce company using the truck, and its driver, Gilberto Alcantar, concluded with a jury verdict in favor of Denis Le Moullac, the father of Amelie Le Moullac.
Following the collision, the driver was not initially cited.
However, a San Francisco Bicycle Coalition member found surveillance video of the crash and turned it over to investigators leading the driver later to be found at fault.
The SF Bicycle Coalition said it was “deeply troubling” that charges were not filed by the District Attorney’s Office.
The District Attorney’s Office said that they were unable to prove this case beyond a reasonable doubt due to a lack of resources.
The bicycle advocacy group called on city leaders to fund the San Francisco District Attorney’s proposed Vehicular Manslaughter Unit, which would have consisted of a prosecutor, an investigator and a paralegal.
The San Francisco District Attorney’s Office proposed a specialized Vehicular Manslaughter Unit in last year’s budget, but it was not included in San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee’s budget, according to San Francisco District Attorney spokesman Max Szabo.
After Le Moullac’s death, the San Francisco Police Department was criticized for how it handled the investigation and for apparently derisive remarks aimed toward bicyclists that a police sergeant made at a memorial event a week after Le Moullac died.
San Francisco police Chief Greg Suhr apologized on behalf of the sergeant in the weeks after the fatal crash and said the incident would be reviewed by the city’s Office of Citizen Complaints, which handles reports of police misconduct.
Mayor Schaaf Hires New Interim City Administrator
Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf said Thursday that she is hiring a new interim city administrator effective next Wednesday but hopes to hire a permanent city administrator by March or April.
Schaaf, who just took office last week, said she would have liked to retain Henry Gardner as interim city administrator but a new state retirement system requirement bars the city from extending his contract after it expires next Tuesday because of his status as a city retiree.
Schaaf said she is turning to John Flores, 68, who was Emeryville’s city manager for 19 years before retiring in 2006.
Schaaf said Flores’ contract will run through June but she hopes to have a permanent city administrator on board well before then.
She said the Oakland City Council is expected to approve the appointment of Flores at its meeting on Tuesday.
Schaaf said 58 people applied for the city administrator position by the filing deadline last Friday.
The executive search firm William Avery & Associates is screening the candidates and will recommend finalists, who will be interviewed the first week of February, Schaaf said.
“I’m thrilled we had so many applicants,” Schaaf said.
The city administrator’s job has been in flux since the departure last March 2 of Deanna Santana, who had held the job since August 2011.
Former Mayor Jean Quan promoted assistant city administrator Fred Blackwell to the top job but he announced in April that he would become chief executive of the San Francisco Foundation, a non-profit organization, and would only stay on the job until June 15.
Quan then appointed Gardner to be interim city administrator. Gardner held the position, known at that time as city manager, from 1981 through 1993.
Schaaf said, “I regret that the law prohibits us from having consistent leadership from Mr. Gardner until the new permanent city administrator is hired. But I could not be more grateful that John Flores, an esteemed and experienced administrator, is willing and able to serve the city in this capacity.”
A San Jose nightclub whose liquor and entertainment licenses were suspended for 60 days Thursday after five people were wounded in a shooting there had a history of other violent incidents over the past year, a spokesman for the state Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control said.
The owner of the liquor license for the Fiesta nightclub, Miguel Sandoval, agreed to ABC’s decision to suspend the license for 60 days starting Friday and place it on probation for two years, ABC spokesman John Carr said.
The ABC took the action based on the shooting early Sunday at the club during a private party hosted by R&B singer Chris Brown. Four people were wounded inside the club and a fifth person was shot outside the business, Carr said.
Also on Thursday, the San Jose Police Department suspended the club’s city entertainment permit for 60 days as of Friday because the owner failed to provide adequate security during the party as required by the permit. The city holds the owner responsible for the club permitting someone to enter with a gun, police Sgt. Heather Randol said.
The Fiesta at 3840 Monterey Highway has operated under a liquor license issued to Sandoval, president of the company LG Group, Inc., since July 26, 1991, according to ABC records.
Sandoval’s annually renewed license is due to expire this coming Feb. 28, according to the ABC.
In 2014, the club was the site of an assault with a deadly weapon resulting in a head injury on Jan. 13; an assault and battery by a patron against another on March 13; a gunshot on July 13 that prompted police to clear 500 people from the club and its parking lot, and an assault by a patron who clubbed a person with bottle on Aug. 21, Carr said.
The incidents together “were all used in this report by the ABC to determine what the penalty should be” against Sandoval, Carr said.
“It’s a stiff penalty,” he said
Drone Worth $3,000 Stolen From Recreation And Parks
A quadcopter owned by the City of San Francisco’s Recreation and Parks Department was stolen last Tuesday morning.
The drone, or unmanned aerial vehicle, was also equipped with a camera.
Valued at more than $3,000, the equipment was taken at approximately 6 a.m. from a city employee’s vehicle while parked at the McLaren Lodge, according to spokeswoman Connie Chan.
Chan said the Department has acquired quadcopters to try the technology out as a way of assessing trees and park facilities for maintenance, repairs and other improvements.
One system has been tested one time, but department management directed their employees not to use the technology again until the city develops policies and guidelines for their use, Chan said.
Prosecutors Not Seeking Death Penalty In ‘Operation Sunny Day’ Gang Indictment
Prosecutors will not seek the death penalty for any of the 11 defendants indicted last March for crimes stemming from their alleged involvement with East Palo Alto gangs.
The San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office had already decided not to seek the death penalty for two defendants implicated in multiple murders and attempted murders in 2012 and 2013, but announced Thursday they will not seek it for Raymond Bradford, 29, for two alleged murders and two attempted murders.
“We aren’t confident that a jury would return a death verdict when the victims are all members of gangs,” Deputy District Attorney Karen Guidotti said. “We do believe that we can achieve a just punishment in life without possibility of parole.”
Bradford, an alleged Da Vill gang member, allegedly participated in the murder of Stoney Gipson in San Francisco on Oct. 7, 2012.
Prosecutors allege he tracked Gipson and fellow rival gang member Dwayne Henry to the now-closed Impala Club in San Francisco through information provided by Nina Cragg, 24, and an associate named “Butta Fresh.”
Bradford went to the club along with Eric Vargas, 20, Emmanuel Hyland, 25, and Roberto Bustos-Montes, 24, to confront their two rivals, according to prosecutors. The three suspects allegedly followed their rivals out of the club and opened fire on their car.
Gipson was found dead there early that morning.
Bradford and Hyland allegedly committed another murder together, shooting and killing Jonathan Alcazar, 24, and injuring another man in an East Palo Alto backyard on Jan. 14, 2013, prosecutors said.
Bradford also teamed up with Vargas and Ware to allegedly try to kill another rival gang member, Chariece Chew, on Sept. 8, 2012. The three men followed Chew from his mother’s house in Hayward over the San Mateo
Bridge to Belmont, then pulled alongside it and opened fire.
Chew and one of his two passengers were hit by gunfire and they crashed. The third passenger was injured in the crash.
Vargas, the alleged shooter, was arrested on Dec. 6, 2012. Ware tried to bribe Chew into testifying that Vargas was not the shooter, using Cragg and a jailhouse connection, Roshawn Bickham, to deliver the message to Chew, who was in custody for unrelated charges.
Bustos-Montes, Hyland, Love-Lopez, Ware and Cragg were indicted in another murder in East Palo Alto, on Jan. 26, 2013, for allegedly killing Lamont Coleman, 21, with a 12-gauge shotgun after believing he had cooperated with law enforcement, according to the indictment.
Prosecutors charged all 11 defendants together as part of a massive criminal complaint dubbed “Operation Sunny Day.” It is still unclear whether all 11 defendants will be tried at once for the numerous crimes or which defendants might be tried first, Guidotti said today.
The defendants were ordered Thursday morning to return to court on Jan. 29 to set a trial date. Most of the defendants remain in custody without bail. Donte Jordan, accused in the indictment of helping to prepare false testimony, is in custody on $500,000 bail.
Police Identify Man Shot And Killed By Officers After Disturbance
A man shot and killed by Fairfield police officers Thursday morning following a report of a disturbance has been identified as 36-year-old Jose Ceja, according to police.
The shooting occurred after officers responded to a disturbance call at a residence in the 2000 block of Sousa Court at 7:49 a.m., according to police.
Officers were told that Ceja was inside the home and intoxicated, and had been making a disturbance and destroying things inside the home since around 3 a.m. He was described as possibly suicidal, and there were other people present inside the home, police said.
When officers entered the home, police say Ceja charged them with a knife. An officer fired and struck him multiple times.
Ceja was pronounced dead at the scene. Police described him Thursday evening as a convicted felon with prior violent criminal offenses.
No other injuries were reported in the incident.
The shooting is being investigated by Fairfield police in conjunction with the Solano County District Attorney’s Office.
Second Baby In Two Days Born On Shoulder Of Hwy 24
A baby born on the side of state Highway 24 in Lafayette Thursday evening was the second such high-speed freeway delivery in the area in less than 48 hours, according to the California Highway Patrol.
The latest baby boy was delivered on the righthand shoulder of eastbound state Highway 24 near the Interstate Highway 680 interchange around 5:30 p.m., according to CHP Officer John Fransen.
Fransen said that the father, who was driving his pregnant wife to a hospital, pulled over to the side of the highway when he realized his wife was delivering.
The birth was the second to occur on that same stretch of road in the past two days, after another baby boy was delivered Wednesday shortly before 7:30 a.m. on state Highway 24 near Acalanes Road.
Firefighters, CHP officers and paramedics all responded to the scene of today’s birth, and Fransen said CHP officers are trained to assist in childbirth when needed.
“We always encourage people to dial 911 so we can get the appropriate resources out there to handle the situation, and it sounds like that’s what the dad here did,” Fransen said.
Both babies and mothers are doing well, Fransen said.
Fire Station Reopening After Closure Due To Great Recession
Shuttered for several years while the county weathered the storms of the Great Recession, the Clayton fire station will reopen Saturday due in part to a $9.6 million federal grant, a Contra Costa Fire Protection District official said Thursday.
Fire Marshal Robert Marshall said the station closed in 2012 as a result of ongoing budget difficulties.
“When the recession hit and property values went down, it was a direct hit to our budget,” Marshall said, adding the fire district is funded by property taxes.
The fire district tightened its belt, reducing the number of stations within the district from 30 to 23. No one was fired, but Marshall said many firefighters “retired out.”
As the economy improved, Marshall said the district was able to increase its staffing levels. In June 2014, the district began hiring more firefighters and Marshall said they plan to add a total of 41 firefighters to the district, including many who are in the academy now.
Although the improving economy is one significant factor, Marshall said the new hires would have come on a lot more slowly if it weren’t for the help of a federal Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant, valued at $9.6 million.
“We’re excited about it,” Marshall said. “It’s one of those things where you take those hits when they come and when you go from 30 companies to 23, you think all that’s really happening is you’re losing people.”
With the Clayton station reopening, the district will now have 24 stations operating, which means quicker access to medical emergencies and to fires before they begin to spread.
“Particularly when you get out to that area of the district, our response times will drop,” Marshall said. “So, now we’ll get there sooner and that’s a benefit to everybody.”
The Contra Costa County Fire Protection District will be holding a small ceremony to reopen Clayton Station 11 on Saturday, Jan. 17 at 10:00 a.m. The station is located at 6500 Center Ave. in Clayton.
Mother, Teenage Son Help Evacuate Family During Two-Alarm Fire
Quick thinking on the part of a mother and her eldest son helped save a family of seven Thursday morning as they escaped a two-alarm fire tearing through their Concord home, a Contra Costa County Fire Protection District spokesman said.
The fire was reported around 6:30 a.m. on St. Phillip Court, a cul-de-sac off of Willow Pass Road, said Fire Marshal Robert Marshall.
The blaze started somewhere in the garage and spread through a duplex, leaving a total of eight people displaced, including a man who lived alone on the other side of the unit, Marshall said.
As the mother of the family was getting her school-aged children to class, she started noticing smoke coming in from under the garage door, Marshall said.
At the same time, her teenage son saw the smoke and started hurrying his siblings, who were upstairs, to get down and out of the house.
“It was a dual thing,” Marshall said. “She ran upstairs to get her son and other children as he was saying, ‘There’s smoke up here.'”
Firefighters responded within 10 minutes and found a fire in a garage with a car inside and flames that spread to the two units of the duplex, Marshall said.
All eight people received assistance from the American Red Cross, he said.
“The one side where the fire stated is a total loss. The other side is not,” Marshall said. “None of them will be able to live there for a while though because it burned a good portion of the roof.”
Marshall said fire inspectors are confident that the fire was not suspicious in nature and said it appears that there was an electrical system at the fire’s point of origin.
“There were a couple of different possible ignition sources,” Marshall said. “So, we won’t go that so far as to say that’s what caused the fire…but we know there was an electrical source in the area of origin.”
The blaze caused an estimated $350,000 in damage, Marshall said.
Caltrain Strikes Unoccupied Car On Tracks
A southbound Caltrain struck an unoccupied vehicle on the tracks in Burlingame Thursday night, causing massive delays for commuters.
Southbound Train 376 struck a vehicle at Broadway in Burlingame just before 6 p.m.
The driver of the car was attempting to make a right turn and accidentally turned on to the train tracks, according to Caltrain spokeswoman Christine Dunn.
Both the driver and passenger were able to get out of the car before the train struck. There were no injuries reported in the incident.
A tow truck removed the car from the tracks around 7:45 p.m. and service was restored shortly after 8 p.m.
Archbishop “Elated” At Pope’s Decision To Canonize Junipero Serra
Pope Francis on Thursday declared Franciscan missionary Junipero Serra, the founder of a number of California missions including San Francisco’s Mission Dolores, a Catholic saint, according to officials with the Archdiocese of San Francisco.
Archbishop of San Francisco Salvatore Cordileone expressed his gratitude for the decision.
“We are all elated at the news of the canonization of blessed Junipero Serra,” Cordileone said in a video news release.
Cordileone called Serra, who died in 1784, the “great apostle here in California.”
A number of missions in California including Mission Dolores in San Francisco were founded by Junipero Serra or under his direction.
According to the Old Mission Santa Barbara, Serra’s arrival in California in 1769 marked the beginning of the Franciscan influence on the Pacific Coast of the United States.
The Franciscans are a Roman Catholic religious order based on the life of St. Francis of Assisi.
Cordileone said Serra had “great sanctity,” “heroic virtue” and tremendous intellect.
Sainthood in the Catholic Church typically requires the documentation of two miracles but the Pope can waive the requirement for a second miracle, according to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Former Lawyer Sentenced To Two Years For Laundering Client’s Illegal Proceeds
A former criminal defense lawyer from Morgan Hill has been sentenced in federal court in San Jose to two years in prison for laundering money that a client obtained by selling stolen computer software.
Jamie Harmon, also known as Jamie Harley, 57, was sentenced Wednesday by U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh.
Harmon was convicted in 2010 of five counts of laundering money by writing checks to her client or his wife while knowing that the funds for the checks were the proceeds of the sale of stolen property.
Harmon’s former client, Christian Pantages, was indicted together with Harmon on Dec. 31, 2008.
Pantages pleaded guilty in March 2010 to charges of conspiring to sell stolen property and conspiring to launder money, and became a prosecution witness against Harmon in her trial in July of that year.
Pantages will be sentenced by Koh on Feb. 18.
U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag said Pantages testified at Harmon’s trial that he told herthe first time her met with her that his company, Silicon Valley Resale, was in the business of selling stolen computer equipment.
Haag said Pantages also testified that Harmon knew that two checks he gave her totaling $127,550 on Dec. 23, 2003, were proceeds of the sale of stolen property.
Harmon deposited the checks the next day in her attorney-client trust account. The counts of which she was convicted concerned five checks totaling $87,050 that Harmon wrote to Pantages or his wife from that account in January and February 2004.
The trial jury was unable to reach a verdict on a sixth charge that Harmon conspired to launder money, and the trial judge, now-retired U.S. District Judge James Ware, declared a mistrial on that charge.
Harmon will begin serving her sentence on June 30. Koh also ordered her to provide 200 hours of community service work after being released from prison.
Harmon was suspended from law practice by the State Bar in 2010 after her conviction.
In a separate proceeding, she was disbarred by the State Bar in 2014 for misconduct in seven cases.
Raiders GM Says Age Not A Factor In Decision To Fire Veteran Scouts
Oakland Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie testified Thursday that he fired two veteran scouts three years ago because he didn’t think they were good enough to head the football team’s scouting operation, not because of their age.
Taking the witness stand in an age discrimination lawsuit filed in Alameda County Superior Court by Bruce Kebric and Jon Kingdon, who had both been with the Raiders for more than 30 years, McKenzie said, “I don’t feel they did their job” as leaders of the scouting group.
He said, “They did a regular job, but I didn’t think they were good enough” to oversee all the other scouts.
McKenzie, who was hired as general manager by Raiders owner Mark Davis on Jan. 6, 2012, fired Kebric and Kingdon on May 1, 2012, shortly after the National Football League draft that year. As scouts, Kebric and Kingdom helped the Raiders evaluate college players and choose which ones to draft.
Kingdon was 59 at the time and Kebric was 68. Kebric is a member of the scouting hall of fame.
In their suit, which was filed on June 6, 2013, the two former scouts accuse the Raiders of age discrimination, discharge in violation of public policy, breach of contract, bad faith and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
They are seeking unspecified general and punitive damages.
After the suit was filed, the Raiders said in a statement that, “These claims of age discrimination are meritless.”
The team said, “The Oakland Raiders have a long history of being an equal opportunity employer, without regard to race, gender, religion or age.”
McKenzie has said that he wanted to hire his own leadership team after he became general manager, but Barbara Lawless, the attorney for Kingdon and Kebric, said outside court today that she thinks McKenzie and Davis wanted to bring in young people and get rid of older people.
Davis took over as the Raiders’ owner in October 2011 after the death of his father Al Davis, the team’s longtime leader. He will testify when the trial resumes on Tuesday.
Deadline Extended For Earthquake Relief Money
The Napa Valley Community Foundation has extended the deadline to apply to its Napa Valley Community Disaster Relief Fund to March 31, 2015.
The fund provides grants to repair structural damage to homes and physical and economic losses to small businesses from the 6.0 Aug. 24 South Napa earthquake.
The previous application deadline was Jan. 16.
The Napa Valley Community Foundation also has increased the maximum grant awards for homeowners and businesses and the program’s income guidelines.
The maximum grant for homeowners is now $20,000 instead of $10,000. The grants are available to qualified homeowners at or below 300 percent of the Area Median Income instead of 200 percent. The change reflects the very high cost of housing in Napa County, said Julia DeNatale, manager of the Community Foundation’s philanthropic services.
The maximum grant award for small business owners is now $25,000 instead of $15,000.
Homeowners and businesses must demonstrate they have been declined a Small Business Administration disaster loan or have losses that exceed their approved SBA loan amounts in order to qualify for a grant from the Napa Valley Community Foundation’s relief fund.
Local residents who have already received rebuilding grants from the Community Disaster Relief Fund may apply for additional funds based on the new maximum grant amounts.
Small business owners who were declined disaster loans from private lenders, including banks, or who have losses that exceed approved loan amounts from private lenders also may apply for grants from the Community Disaster Relief Fund.
Terence Mulligan, president of Napa Valley Community Foundation said the Federal Emergency Management Agency and Small Business Association have already provided $40 million in grants and loans to 4,300 applicants as of this week.
Mulligan said 325 homeowners and business owners have been declined an SBA disaster loan.
The Napa Valley Community Foundation’s nonprofit partners have received applications from 208 homeowners and business owners seeking money to rebuild, and grants have been awarded to 77 recipients, DeNatale said.
Another 128 applications are pending, she said.
The Community Disaster Relief Fund has distributed $2 million to address immediate recovery needs and $500,000 to help homeowners and business owners rebuild, DeNatale said.
Nearly 1,000 Napa County households have received direct financial assistance for recovery or rebuilding and more than 11,000 local residents have received services as a result of grants from the fund, DeNatale said.
The Napa Valley Community Foundation allocated up to $8 million for rebuilding programs for homeowners, mobile homeowners and small business owners, DeNatale said.
The approval rate for SBA disaster loans in Napa County is 70 percent compared to 50 percent nationwide, Mulligan said.
Three-Alarm Fire Reported In Victorian, Adjoining Commercial Building
Vallejo firefighters responded to a three-alarm fire involving two buildings on Georgia Street Thursday night.
The fire, reported at 9:15 p.m. at Georgia and Amador streets, involves a two-story Victorian residential building and an adjoining commercial structure, according to fire officials.
Weather Forecast For The San Francisco Bay Area
Skies will be mostly cloudy today, with a slight chance of rain. Highs will be around 60 degrees and southeast winds could reach 5 to 10 mph.
Skies will be mostly cloudy tonight with lows in the lower 50s and west winds of around 5 to 10 mph. There is a slight chance of rain tonight.
The forecast calls for mostly cloudy skies Saturday with highs in the lower 60s and west winds of 5 to 15 mph.