Thursday News Roundup
UNOCCUPIED CAR FOUND ON ROCKS OF YERBA BUENA ISLAND REPORTED STOLEN OUT OF BERKELEY
An unoccupied car that was reported stolen out of Berkeley was found on the rocks below a cliff at San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Island on Tuesday, according to a fire department spokeswoman.
A citizen reported the car, described as a white Mini Cooper with a black roof, at about 7:30 a.m. Tuesday near the lighthouse on the southeast tip of the island, San Francisco fire spokeswoman Mindy Talmadge said.
Crews located the car on the rocks below a cliff and determined that the vehicle was unoccupied.
Talmadge said a car thief might have been responsible for abandoning the vehicle on Yerba Buena Island, which connects the eastern and western spans of the Bay Bridge and also includes a U.S. Coast Guard station.
Coast Guard spokesman Petty Officer 1st Class Bill Colclough said the Coast Guard Investigative Service is investigating the incident along with the San Francisco police and sheriff’s departments.
Colclough said fortunately nobody was injured during the incident and no pollution has been detected.
He said so far no oil or fuel appears to have been spilled and that there is no sheening in the water surrounding that part of the island.
OAKLAND MAN MISSING WITH CHILDREN IN SIERRAS IDENTIFIED
An Oakland barber and his two young children have gone missing while taking a drive through a remote area of Sierra and Plumas counties, Sierra County sheriff’s officials said today.
Nicholas Vlahos, 41, had been camping in western Sierra County with his 5-year-old son and 3-year-old daughter, according to the sheriff’s office.
They left their campsite in a black 2015 Toyota Tundra 4X4 pickup truck and planned to take a drive through a remote and rugged area of Sierra and Plumas counties as they went home. They were in good health and had plenty of supplies, according to the sheriff’s office.
On Tuesday evening, they were reported overdue returning home from the trip. Deputies searched the area that evening but found no sign of them.
The next day, deputies conducted a more extensive search of the planned route and surrounding areas with the assistance of Cal Fire and a California Highway Patrol helicopter but still have been unable to locate the family.
Authorities planned to resume the search this morning, but reports of snowfall in the region could complicate the efforts.
BART HOSTING FIRST-EVER TELEPHONE TOWN HALL MEETING ON BUDGET
Customers will be able to ask questions about BART’s proposed fiscal year 2016 budget during the agency’s first-ever telephone town hall meeting tonight, according to BART officials.
The meeting starts at 6:30 p.m. and is accessible by calling (855) 269-4484 or by signing up online beforehand. Spanish-speaking customers can call in at (888) 400-9342.
Customers who sign up early at https://tthm.wufoo.com/forms/bart-proposed-budget-teletownhall-signup/ will get a call from BART that connects them to the meeting and will have some priority over those who call in.
BART’s fiscal year 2016 budget includes a proposed 3.4 percent inflation-based fare increase to help pay for new train cars, a new maintenance facility and a new train control system, according to BART officials.
The agency’s priorities for spending the money in the nearly $1.6 billion combined capital and operating budget for fiscal year 2016 include increasing passenger traffic and improving the system’s cleanliness and how often trains are on time, BART officials said.
A webcast of the meeting will allow residents to watch the meeting live and ask a question in writing. The web address for the webcast is http://cast.teletownhall.us/web_client/?id=BART.
BART will still hold its official public meeting on the budget at the agency’s board of directors meeting at 5 p.m. on May 28.
Tonight’s town hall comes a day after BART had several service disruptions, most notably one that lasted several hours after a 10-inch gap in the tracks was found Wednesday morning between the Civic Center and 16th Street Mission stations in San Francisco.
SF PROGRAM NAMED FINALIST IN GOVERNMENT INNOVATIONS COMPETITION
A San Francisco program that helps children and their families save money for college is in the running for a prestigious award from Harvard University.
The Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University announced yesterday that San Francisco’s Kindergarten to College program is among nine finalists in the Innovations in American Government Awards competition, city officials said.
A cohort of policy experts, researchers and practitioners chose the nine finalists by looking at government initiatives that address policy issues such as economic development, environmental and community revitalization, public health, equal access to education, emergency preparedness and health care, according to city officials.
Kindergarten to College, which began during the 2010-2011 school year, is the first universal and automatic savings program in the country, city officials said.
The program helps families put away funds by establishing a Citibank college savings account containing $50 for every kindergarten student enrolled in a San Francisco public school. In addition, the program encourages families to save money throughout their child’s academic career by providing monetary incentives and bonuses.
According to city officials, San Francisco families so far have invested more than $1 million of their own money.
Half of contributing families earn less than $40,000 a year for a family of four and participate in the national school lunch program, city officials said.
“K2C has made college savings a reality for families at all income levels in San Francisco,” city Treasurer Jose Cisneros said in a statement. “I know families in San Francisco are struggling, and I am proud that we have created a pathway for college attendance in our students.”
The San Francisco Treasurer’s Office of Financial Empowerment, in partnership with the Mayor’s office and the San Francisco Unified School District, runs Kindergarten to College.
City officials said the program’s leaders will give a presentation, along with other finalists, in front of the National Selection Committee of the Innovations in American Government Awards on May 20, at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The winner will be announced this summer.
“These programs represent the forefront in government innovation and a cross-section of issues of the twenty-first century, including renewable energy, community revitalization and public-private partnerships,” director of the Innovations in Government program at the Ash Center Stephen Goldsmith said in a statement. “They demonstrate that efforts to make government work better can stem not only from executive orders and statewide initiatives, but also small community programs and private citizens on social media.”
The Innovation in American Government Awards was created in 1985 with funding from the Ford Foundation, and aims to recognize models of government innovations, according to city officials.