Storm, Winds Starting Thursday, Flash Flood Warning Issued For North Bay

A storm expected to fall throughout the Bay Area starting on Thursday has prompted the National Weather Service to issue warnings for flash floods and small watercrafts.

The rain will hit the North Bay starting on Thursday and become stronger later that night, weather service officials. The precipitation will work its way south into the rest of the region by Friday in time for the morning commute hours, weather service
officials said.

The rain will be particularly strong on Friday, persist into the afternoon commute and continue into the night, according to the weather service.

In the Bay Area windy conditions between 20 to 30 mph will also start on Thursday and gusts could reach speeds of more than 40 mph later that night into Friday, weather service officials said.

Up to 50 mph winds are forecasted at higher elevations from Thursday night through Friday, according to the weather service.

Thunderstorms are also forecasted for Friday afternoon and evening, according to the weather service.

The combination of rain and gusts increases the chance of downed trees, power outages and hazardous roadways, according to the weather service.

A break in rainfall is expected Saturday before a second storm system arrives Sunday through early Monday, weather service officials said.

The coast and North Bay are expected to see between 3 and 6 inches of rain by Sunday, with isolated areas in the North Bay potentially exceeding 9 inches, according to forecasters.

Between 2 and 4 inches of rain is predicted for most of the Bay Area, forecasters said.

Flash floods are expected in Marin, Napa and Sonoma counties starting Thursday evening and will continue through Friday night, National Weather Service officials said.

Woman Pointed Revolver At Emeryville Officers Before She Was Shot

A woman shot and killed by Emeryville police in Oakland on Tuesday afternoon allegedly pulled a gun on Home Depot security guards before fleeing and trying to carjack three different drivers, the Emeryville police chief said Wednesday.

The revolver she was carrying was loaded and she raised it toward the two Emeryville police officers but did not fire a shot, Emeryville police Chief Ken James said. The two police officers fired a total of seven rounds, killing her and blowing out the windows of a bystander’s car.

Loss prevention officers at the Home Depot at 3838 Hollis St. first contacted Emeryville police at 12:35 p.m. to report a woman who had been stealing knives and other items. She put the items under her purse in a shopping cart and wheeled it out without stopping to pay, James said.

When the Home Depot officers confronted her outside and asked her to come back to the store, she became combative. At one point she fell to the ground and hit her head, and when the Home Depot security officers picked her back up off the pavement, she broke away from them and pulled something wrapped in a towel from her purse, James said.

She removed the towel and the guards noticed it was a revolver and backed away. The woman ran down Hollis and the loss prevention officers called police back to report the woman was armed, James said.

While running down Hollis, she attempted to carjack at least three different drivers, James said.

One of those drivers was 65-year-old Oakland resident Russ Whitehead’s partner, Whitehead said today. He and his partner had driven separate cars to the Extra Space Storage facility at 3406 Hollis St., just over Oakland’s border with Emeryville to drop off some boxes.

He said the woman pointed a revolver at his partner’s face, prompting him to throw the car in reverse and drive away from the woman.

Whitehead was blocked from driving in reverse and remained in the driver’s seat. He then heard police arrive and yell commands at the woman, he said.

When the two officers arrived the woman turned her gun at them, James said. They fired a total of seven shots between the two of them. One officer, a woman, fired only once while the other, a man, fired six times.

The officers moved in to provide first aid and an ambulance was quickly behind them. They had already called for medical assistance after hearing the woman had fallen and hit her head during the confrontation with Home Depot security.

She was pronounced dead at the scene. James declined to release her name, saying that police have not yet contacted her family, but said she was in her late 30s. She had a criminal history including prior arrests for theft and fraud, but no history of violence, James said.

Harris Will Ask Appeals Court To Reinstate California Ban On Foie Gras

California Attorney General Kamala Harris disclosed Wednesday that she will ask a federal appeals court in San Francisco to reinstate California’s ban on the sale of foie gras from force-fed ducks and geese.

Lawyers from Harris’s office filed a notice they will appeal a Jan. 7 ruling in which a federal trial judge in Los Angeles struck down the ban. U.S. District Judge Stephen Wilson said the state law was preempted by a federal poultry inspection law.

The notice of the planned appeal to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco was filed in Wilson’s court docket.

Kristin Ford, Harris’s press secretary, said the attorney general has no comment on the appeal.

Foie gras, which means “fat liver” in French, is made from the livers of ducks or geese. In the last stages of feeding, birds are force-fed through a tube in order to enlarge their livers.

The measure struck down by Wilson was one of two parts of a law enacted by the state Legislature in 2004.

That part of the law banned the sale in California of products resulting from the force-feeding of a bird for the purpose of enlarging its liver.

Wilson ruled in a 2012 lawsuit filed by foie gras producers from the province of Quebec, Canada, and the Hudson Valley of New York and a Southern California restaurant chain.

A second part of the law bans the force-feeding of birds within California for the purpose of enlarging their livers. That provision was not challenged, but Wilson’s decision allows California restaurants to obtain foie gras from out-of-state producers.

Because Wilson did not issue a stay, his ruling went into effect and some Bay Area chefs began serving foie gras the evening of Jan. 7.

Wilson said the first provision of the state law conflicts with the federal Poultry Product Inspection Act, which prohibits states from imposing ingredient requirements that are additional to or different from federal requirements.

Wilson wrote that a force-fed bird’s liver is “a particular constituent” of foie gras and that the state measure therefore imposed an ingredient requirement not allowed under the U.S. law.

The Humane Society of the United States, which was allowed to become a party in the case, has argued that a force-fed bird’s liver is not an ingredient because foie gras can be produced without force feeding.

3 Snakes Smuggled From South America To Florida Find Home At Oakland Zoo

Three Amazon tree boas that were illegally transported from South America to Florida have found a new home at the Oakland Zoo.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service agents seized the snakes that were illegally imported to the Port of Miami and reached out to the non-profit group Association of Zoos and Aquariums, which was able to find the slithering creatures a place at the Oakland Zoo.

Since the boas were smuggled, they cannot be returned to their natural habitat and were instead treated at the zoo’s Veterinary Hospital for months under quarantine, zoo officials said.

Four Amazon tree boas were originally found at the Florida port and were treated at the zoo hospital for internal and external parasites, which veterinary staff removed by hand, according to the zoo.

“Animals illegally imported from the wild and into the pet trade are subjected to horrific conditions during the transport including overcrowding, extreme temperatures, and little to no sanitation, leading to a very low survival rate,” Margaret Rousser, Oakland Zoo’s zoological manager, said in a statement.

Zoo officials took in the snakes knowing they only had a 50 percent chance of living.

One of the boas died while in care and three survived the quarantine period, according to the zoo.

Zookeepers added hiding places for the trio as they adjust to the new exhibit at the zoo’s Reptile and Amphibian Discovery Room.

The snakes tend to stay near rivers and are commonly found in humid environments, savannas and dry forests.

They are colorful creatures that tend to have a pale tan to black base and yellow and red tinge.

Their tongues are black and their heads have five dark stripes extending from their eyes, which either have yellow, gray or red tones.

They are known to be an aggressive species but don’t secrete venom.

On average, the boas can live for 20 years while in captivity.

Police Looking For 3 Armed Suspects In Jewelry Store Robbery

San Francisco police are looking for three armed suspects in a jewelry store robbery that occurred Wednesday afternoon at a popular shopping center, a police spokeswoman said.

The robbery occurred in the 800 block of Market Street around 3 p.m., San Francisco police Sgt. Monica MacDonald said.

A Tiffany & Co. store at 845 Market St. is located inside the first floor of the Westfield San Francisco Centre.

The suspects ordered everyone in the store on to the ground and then ordered an employee to open cases filled with jewelry, MacDonald said.

The suspects were able to take some jewelry and flee, according to MacDonald.

MacDonald said police have not yet determined how much jewelry was stolen this afternoon.

Police did not have video footage available of the robbery late this afternoon, MacDonald said.

Woman Killed In Hit-And-Run Collision With Garbage Truck

A woman was killed in Milpitas early Wednesday after an apparent hit-and-run collision involving a vehicle and a garbage truck, police said this evening.

The initial crash was reported at 3:36 a.m. at North Milpitas Boulevard and Jacklin Road, according to police.

Officers arriving at the scene followed a trail of debris to the 800 block of Coyote Street, where they found a silver two-door 1997 Cadillac stopped at the curb.

Next to the car, a woman was lying on the ground with severe visible injuries, police said.

Milpitas Fire Department personnel pronounced the woman dead at the scene.

Fire Chief Hopeful That Expanded Ambulance Fleet, Larger Paramedic Staff Will Improve Emergency Response

The San Francisco Fire Department has added a fleet of new, highly efficient ambulances and plans to hire more than 40 paramedics in the coming months to bolster their emergency response services.

San Francisco fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White said Wednesday that the addition of 19 ambulances will help the department respond to the city’s growing population and high number of emergency calls, while keeping costs at a minimum.

Hayes-White said the 19 new ambulances, each costing the city about $154,000, are more cost effective than previous ambulances since they consist of two parts, a chassis or vehicle frame, and a re-mountable box, or the part of the ambulance where patients are treated.

With the new design, ambulances needing replacement will require the fire department only to purchase a new chassis. The old body, or box, can then be attached to the new chassis, according to Michael Braun, a senior equipment specifications supervisor for the City of San Francisco.

Braun said the new ambulances cost about half as much to replace. He said to buy a new cab and chassis and simply refurbish the box will cost $60,000 to $70,000, instead of the $154,000 needed to purchase a whole new ambulance.

In addition, the new fleet is covered by a five-year warranty so that the manufacturer will now do repairs while maintenance will continue to be done by the fire department, Braun said.

He said the chassis and cab should be replaced every five years and that each new vehicle will be made safer, more efficient and greener than the next.

Hayes-White said she is hopeful that by expanding the fire department’s ambulance fleet to 53, emergency response times will continue to improve.

Hayes-White said her department has been in the process of getting these ambulances on the road since 2012 and that after making some adjustments, she said they are getting very good feedback from staff and the public,

“We’re really happy about these rigs,” Hayes-White said today.

Jury Finds Raiders Didn’t Engage In Age Discrimination

A jury that deliberated for only a few hours found Wednesday that the Oakland Raiders didn’t engage in age discrimination when they fired two veteran scouts three years ago.

In their verdict, jurors ruled that age wasn’t a substantial motivating factor in the team’s decision to dismiss Bruce Kebric and Jon Kingdon, who each had more than 30 years of experience as scouts, on May 1, 2012.

Kingdon was 59 at the time and Kebric was 68.

The scouts’ attorney, Barbara Lawless, alleged in her closing argument on Tuesday that Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie and owner Mark Davis wanted to get rid of older people and bring in younger people when they reshuffled the team in 2012.

Davis took over as the Raiders’ owner in October 2011 after the death of his father Al Davis, the team’s longtime leader. He hired McKenzie as general manager on Jan. 6, 2012.

Referring to McKenzie’s dismissal of Kingdon and Kebric, Lawless said, “He threw them out on the street and replaced them with less experienced younger people he didn’t know well.”

But the Raiders’ lawyer, David Reis, said in his closing argument, “This case is not about age discrimination because no one made decisions because of age.”

Reis said McKenzie was simply “a new general manager who brought in his own people” and said he replaced Kingdon and Kebric because he didn’t think they were good leaders and communicators.

“Age discrimination is wrong but it didn’t happen here,” Reis told jurors.

He said, “It wasn’t old guys or young guys, it was Reggie’s guys.”

Reis said when McKenzie testified in the case, he vehemently denied that age was a factor in his decision to fire Kingdon and Kebric.

In fact, Reis said McKenzie retained many older people in the scouting department and other departments and the average age of full-time employees in the scouting department declined by only a fraction, from 42.66 to 42.06, after Kingdon and Kebric were fired.

Property Crimes Up Nearly 18 Percent, Violent Crimes Down 4 Percent, Report Shows

Property crimes increased by nearly 18 percent in Pittsburg in 2014 compared to 2013, while violent crime decreased by nearly 4 percent, according to a report released Wednesday by the Pittsburg Police Department.

Larceny increased more than other type of property crime, rising 30 percent in 2014, according to the report. Over the same time period, auto thefts increased 14.5 percent and burglaries remained relatively constant.

While arsons more than doubled, from seven in 2013 to 16 in 2014, Pittsburg police Capt. Ron Raman said that has more to do with the way the department is classifying and recording arsons than the number of arsons actually taking place.

Previously, arsons may only have been investigated by the Fire Department and thus may not have been captured in the Police Department’s crime records, he said.

Murders remained constant in Pittsburg from 2013 to 2014, but rapes increased from 1 to 3. Aggravated assaults increased slightly and robberies decreased by 13.5 percent, according to the report.

The department hit a 50-year low point in crime in 2011, but Raman said the numbers have trended slightly upwards since then.

“We’ve seen increases, but slight increases,” Raman said.

The department has stepped up its enforcement activity by setting up coordinated enforcement actions with state and local police agencies, Raman said.

Arrest Made In Dollar Store Sexual Assault On 8-Year-Old

Alameda County Sheriff’s Office officials Wednesday said they have made an arrest in a sexual assault on an 8-year-old girl that occurred in a dollar store in the Cherryland area on Sunday.

The girl was in the toy aisle of the 99 Cents Only store at 20882 Mission Blvd. at about 1:45 p.m. Sunday when a man grabbed her and put his hand in her pants, sheriff’s Sgt. Ray Kelly said.

The man ran from the store after the assault.

The girl and her mother waited at the store for sheriff’s investigators and described the assault. They said the suspect was a black man in his late teens standing 6 feet tall with a light complexion.

He had a flattop haircut and was wearing a white T-shirt, dark jeans and black tennis shoes, Kelly said.

The girl was taken to UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland for a sexual assault exam.

Man Shot While Riding In Go-Cart Dies Of Injuries

A man who was shot Wednesday afternoon while riding in a go-cart in Vallejo has died of his injuries, police said.

The shooting occurred around 1:40 p.m. in the area of Modoc and Glenwood streets, according to police.

Responding officers found a 21-year-old man seated in a go-cart with multiple gunshot wounds.

The man later died of his injuries, but his identity is being withheld pending notification of next of kin.

Police have no information about a suspect or vehicle and also do not know the age of the male victim, Lt. Sid DeJesus said earlier today.

Archbishop Clarifies Catholic High Schools’ Sex Doctrine In Teacher Contract Language

New contract and handbook language proposed by the Roman Catholic archbishop of San Francisco this week warning Catholic high school faculty and staff that homosexual relations and other sexual activities outside of marriage are “gravely evil” has led to an outcry from the LGBT community and its supporters.

In a letter sent this week to teachers in the Archdiocesan Catholic High Schools, Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone wrote that the schools must strive to be truly Catholic institutions. In an effort to reach that goal, the Archdiocese of San Francisco is adding statements of Catholic teaching on sexual morality and religious practice into the faculty and staff handbooks of the four archdiocesan high schools and proposing new contract language to “clarify” the church’s view.

The handbook additions, which would take effect in the 2015-16 school year, will apply to Archbishop Riordan High School and Sacred Heart Cathedral Preparatory in San Francisco, as well as Marin Catholic High School in Kentfield and Junipero Serra High School in San Mateo.

According to the Archdiocese of San Francisco, there are about 315 teachers at the four schools who belong to the teacher’s union, which is currently negotiating a new contract, expected to take effect on Aug. 1.

Cordileone stated in his letter to faculty and staff that the purpose of these changes is to clarify that Catholic schools “exist to affirm and proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”

The new handbook language warns that “all extra-marital sexual relationships are gravely evil and that these include adultery, masturbation, fornication, the viewing of pornography and homosexual relations.” In addition, it outlines church positions on controversial subjects including the ordination of women and notes that faculty must “refrain from public support of any cause or issue that is explicitly or implicitly contrary to that which the Catholic Church holds to be true.”

Cordileone writes that the new document clarifies Catholic issues in Catholic schools with the intention “not to target for dismissal from our schools any teachers, singly or collectively.” He said the staff will not have to sign anything regarding their adherence to the new additions to the handbook.

But Cordileone’s announcement has created an outcry in the LGBTQ community and among its supporters, who believe the archbishop’s message breeds discrimination and fear.

Among the organizations that disapprove of the archdiocese’s clarifications is the Human Rights Campaign Foundation. The HRC is appealing to the San Francisco Archdiocese to remove “harsh” and “anti-LGBT” language from its new teachers’ contract and handbook.

The HRC states that this language imposes restrictions on teachers and staff, even after their workday is through.

County Welfare System Misses U.S., State Foster Care Standards As Caseloads Increase

The performance of Santa Clara County’s child welfare system last year fell below more than a dozen standards set by federal and state governments while struggling with limited staff to meet higher caseloads of foster children, according to county officials.

A review of the county’s implementation of foster care from last April to June showed that it missed U.S. government goals such as preventing repeated maltreatment of children, making sure social workers performed timely visits, reuniting children with families and arranging for adoptions within 12 months of care, among others.

The county’s Child Welfare Services also did not meet California’s goals for timely medical and dental exams for foster youth and responding to emergency referrals about child neglect and abuse within 10 days.

The agency, however, did exceed federal targets in monthly at-home caseworker visits, median time for reuniting children in care for 8 days or longer with their families, children ready to be adopted when they leave care and children with only one or two care placements.

The findings, compiled in a quarterly report by the county’s Social Services Agency, will be presented Thursday at the meeting of the Board of Supervisors’ Children, Seniors and Families Committee at the County Government Center in San Jose.

Lori Medina, director of the Department of Family and Children’s Services, said that the rise in demand for foster care is due in part to county population increases but the state’s passage of Assembly Bill 12 in 2010 has had a greater impact.

The law as of 2012 permitted those in foster care in California at age 18 to remain in care to age 19, rising to age 20 in 2013 and 21 as of 2014, if they met certain criteria such as completing high school, being employed or going to college.

As a result, social workers in her department are now at or above their caseload standards, Medina said.

“We have been in the process of rebuilding our staffing,” Medina said. “There has really been a lot of triaging.”

Brothers Who Ran Bus Company Sentenced For Tax And Bank Fraud Conspiracies

Two brothers who ran a charter bus company were sentenced in federal court in San Jose Wednesday to prison terms for fraud convictions.

Fidencio Moreno, 52, and Arturo Moreno, 38, both of San Jose, are co-owners of Quality Insurance Travel Inc., based in Santa Clara.

Fidencio Moreno, who pleaded guilty in July to one count of conspiracy to commit tax fraud, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh to three years and five months in prison. He agreed to a sentence of that length in his plea agreement.

Arturo Moreno pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit tax fraud and conspiracy to commit bank fraud in home loan applications. Koh sentenced him to two years and four months in prison.

A third family member, Elena Moreno, 40, who worked as the company’s bookkeeper and is married to Fidencio Moreno, was also charged in the case.

She pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit tax fraud and conspiring to commit bank fraud and was sentenced by Koh last month to one year and 10 months in prison.

Among other services, the family’s bus company ran charter buses to the Chukchansi Gold Resort & Casino, operated by the Picayune Rancheria of the Chukchansi Indians, in Coarsegold, Madera County, between 2006 and 2010.

A federal grand jury alleged in a 2012 indictment that while the defendants reported income on their tax returns from checks paid by the casino for bus service contracts, they did not report additional cash payments of $20 provided by passengers who were not preferred customers of the casino.

The unreported receipts exceeded $967,000, according to U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag.

Last year, prosecutors obtained a revised indictment additionally charging the defendants with fraud in home loan applications for four San Jose properties owned by various family members.

As part of their sentences, both Arturo and Elena Moreno were ordered to pay $423,000 in restitution to banks and to forfeit $3.3 million obtained in home loans.

Prosecutors said the three family members have already paid more than $200,000 in restitution to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service for losses associated with the tax fraud conspiracy.

Sheriff’s Office Identifies Deputy Who Shot, Killed 29-Year-Old Man

The Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Office on Wednesday identified a deputy who shot and killed a man in Antioch on Tuesday afternoon.

Scott Pliler, a 13-year veteran with the sheriff’s office, was one of the deputies who responded Tuesday to an apartment complex in the 1000 block of Claudia Court in Antioch to carry out a domestic violence restraining order/criminal protective order, which included an order to move out of the apartment, sheriff’s officials said.

Deputies contacted the man, identified Wednesday by the Contra Costa County coroner’s office as Dewayne Deshawn Ward Jr., 29, who also had a no-bail warrant for his arrest.

According to the sheriff’s office, Ward resisted arrest, leading deputies to use non-lethal options including pepper spray, a police K-9 and Taser before he allegedly charged at Pliler with a knife.

Pliler fired his service weapon, striking Ward, who was later pronounced dead at the scene.

An autopsy on Ward is scheduled for Thursday, sheriff’s officials said.

Pliler is assigned to the sheriff’s office’s patrol division as a K-9 deputy, according to the sheriff’s office.

Sheriff’s officials said officials with the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office, Antioch police and sheriff’s deputies continue to investigate the shooting.

Weather Forecast For The San Francisco Bay Area

Skies will be mostly cloudy today with highs in the upper 50s to mid-60s. Winds will be from the south and could reach 10 to 20 mph.

Skies will be mostly cloudy tonight, and there will be a chance of rain. Lows could dip into the upper 50s. Winds out of the south could reach 20 to 30 mph.

Friday will be breezy and rainy, with heavier rains expected in the afternoon. Highs will be in the lower 60s and south winds could reach 20 to 30 mph.