Wednesday Morning News Roundup
Bicyclist Struck, Killed By Car Late This Afternoon
A bicyclist was struck and killed by a car in East Oakland late Tuesday afternoon, a police spokeswoman said.
Officers responded to reports of an accident between a vehicle and bicycle in the area of Prune and San Leandro streets shortly after 4:30 p.m., Oakland police Officer Johnna Watson said.
Arriving officers found the injured bicyclist, a woman in her 30s or 40s, who was pronounced dead by emergency crews at the scene, Watson said.
The driver of the car, a man in his 50s, stayed at the scene and was cooperative with investigators, she said.
City Workers At De Young, Legion Of Honor Protest Use Of Fingerprinting Technology
San Francisco city employees working at the de Young and Legion of Honor museums rallied at City Hall Tuesday to protest use of their thumbprints in biometric authorization, voicing concerns that a cyber hack could irretrievably comprise their personal information.
Many city workers at San Francisco museums, represented by Service Employees International Union Local 1021, have said that they don’t want their thumbprints given to a third-party contractor to be used in clocking and out of work, as it could make their private information more vulnerable to cyber hacking.
Unlike a credit card or Social Security number, union members said that they would not be able to get new thumbprints should their information be hacked.
Workers said Tuesday that their biometrics shouldn’t be given to a contractor as a condition of employment.
After rallying outside City Hall on Tuesday afternoon, workers went door-to-door to the offices of the members of the Board of Supervisors and Mayor Ed Lee with a petition of 1,700 signatures, urging them to protect the employees’ privacy and sensitive personal information.
In a letter to San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee and the Board of Supervisors, union members and staff explained that, “a biometric clock is a violation of employees’ rights to personal security and serves to foster a surveillance culture.”
Furthermore, the letter states that, by forcing city employees to give their fingerprints “under pain of discipline, insubordination and possible termination,” the Fine Arts Museums has violated the San Francisco Administration Code, which states that the city cannot disclose employee’s private information unless specifically authorized to do so.
If the goal is to improve payroll accuracy, museum workers said they would be happy to clock in with a magnetic swipe card or type in their city-issued Disaster Service Worker ID number.
In addition, union workers said that questions of identity could also be addressed by reviewing the security footage of the time clocks.
City workers say the director of human resources and administration at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, Charlie Castillo, is a main proponent of the program, but that he himself has no plans to use biometrics for time cards. Other top-level museum personnel will also not have to use the biometrics.
Supes Approve Purchase Of Mobile Phone Tracking System After Supe Verbally Clashes With Sheriff
The Santa Clara County sheriff and a member of the Board of Supervisors clashed Tuesday before the board approved the purchase of a controversial mobile phone tracking device.
The board voted 4 to 1 for a motion to draw on a state grant to buy the mobile phone triangulation system but it cannot become operational until two board committees hold hearings and develop a policy for how the Sheriff’s Office may it.
Sheriff Laurie Smith testified before the board in favor of the $502,889 mobile phone triangulation system to assist deputies in pinpointing a cellular phone held by people such as wanted criminals, suspects or children and adults at risk.
In the case of criminals, the system, known as Hailstorm and manufactured by Florida-based Harris Corp., would be used to locate the phones of a person only after a warrant is issued by a judge and within three days in case it had to be used in an emergency, Smith said.
The sheriff’s office discussed the system with the county’s Anti-Terrorism Approval Authority, which approved its funding from a state grant in 2013 and had further sessions on it in July 2014, October 2014 and last January, Smith said.
The board itself on Jan. 14, 2014 approved the grant funding, from
California’s State Homeland Security Grant Program, to purchase it in full, she said.
But Supervisor Joe Simitian, who has been outspoken on privacy issues while on the board, complained that supervisors never had a full discussion about a proposed mobile triangulation-tracking device employed by the county.
Under questioning from Simitian, Smith admitted her office only had a draft policy on how it intended to use the Harris device and that she did not really know how it worked.
Simitian said that from what he had read about the Harris triangulation system, it “mimics a cell tower” to locate individuals and he said he feared it potentially could compromise public privacy and the rights of citizens to due process of law, especially by those who act irresponsibly within law enforcement.
The sheriff’s office had not yet prepared a policy on the use of the Harris system, did not put it up to enough scrutiny with the board or the community and held a public forum on it only last Friday that lasted 30 minutes, Simitian said.
Simitian offered a motion to send the proposed procurement of the system back to staff, but it was defeated for a lack of a second.
Smith said the sheriff’s office needed the board’s approval to proceed with the process of buying the Harris system by May 15 and accept delivery of it by May 30 or it would lose the state funding.
Supervisor Mike Wasserman, while acknowledging Simitian’s reservations about it, spoke in favor of the system for ensuring public safety.
Wasserman presented a motion to approve the procurement but not the implementation of the system until a policy is discussed and approved by two board committees, the finance and government operations committee and the public safety and government committee, before it is brought to the full board.
Wasserman’s motion passed 4 to 1 with Simitian opposed.
Supe Introduces Resolution Supporting Move To Eliminate Personal Belief Exemptions For Vaccination
San Francisco Supervisor Scott Wiener on Tuesday introduced a resolution supporting efforts to eliminate personal belief exemptions for vaccinations for children in California.
If approved, the resolution would put the Board of Supervisors on record as supporting Senate Bill 277, introduced last Thursday, which would require all public and private schools and child care facilities to require proof of vaccination for enrollment.
Currently, California is one of 19 states that allow parents to obtain an exemption from vaccination requirements due to personal beliefs.
The rate of parents in the state requesting exemptions from vaccinations tripled from 2000 to 2014, to a rate of one in every 40 kids, Wiener said Tuesday in a statement.
“Children need to be vaccinated, to protect their own health and the health of our entire community,” Wiener said. “There is no scientific basis for not vaccinating children, with the exception of the small minority of children who have health problems.”
The move to eliminate personal belief exemptions comes in the wake of a measles outbreak that has so far led to 123 confirmed cases since December, state public health officials said Monday.
Of those cases, 39 have been linked to visits to Disneyland between Dec. 17 and 20, while 28 were due to household or close contacts with a confirmed case. Another eight were exposed in a community setting such as an emergency room where a confirmed case was present.
State public health officials have determined that 56 of those people with confirmed cases of measles were unvaccinated and 16 had one or more doses of the measles vaccine. Vaccination documentation was not available for all cases.
In the Bay Area, as of Monday, six confirmed cases had been reported in Alameda County, two in Marin County, three in San Mateo County, two in Santa Clara County and one in Solano County, according to state officials.
The Board of Supervisors is expected to vote on Wiener’s resolution at its next meeting.
Supervisors Approve $1.8 Million To Help Undocumented Immigrants
The Santa Clara Board of Supervisors on Tuesday unanimously approved $1.8 million for undocumented immigrants eligible for administrative relief in the immigration process.
The one-time funding will be available for 20 months, starting in April, according to the board, and that money will be distributed to nonprofits that provide services to immigrants through the Silicon Valley Community Foundation.
An estimated 50,000 county residents are potentially eligible for help under the Deferred Action for Parental Accountability and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals programs, according to the board.
Deferred action temporarily authorizes non-U.S. citizens to remain in the country and apply for a work permit. Under DAPA and DACA, deferred action is currently valid for a period of three years.
Board president Dave Cortese said in a prepared statement that in the absence of a coordinated outreach campaign, “notarios,” or notaries, are preying on eligible immigrants by offering them a path to citizenship and taking their money without guiding them through the legal process.
The county plans to launch an outreach campaign to educate the community about DAPA and DACA and establish a partnership with the City of San Jose to coordinate and share funding.
The plan also requires regular reports from the Silicon Valley Community Foundation on how the $1.8 million in funding is being spent.
School District Reaches Wage Agreement With Some Employees
The Oakland Unified School District said Tuesday that it has reached an agreement on wage increases for 1,700 employees who are represented by two of its largest bargaining units and also established a new minimum wage level of $12.25 an hour.
However, the district still hasn’t reached a contract agreement with its teachers, who haven’t had a large raise since 2003.
The wage agreement affected members of Service Employees International Union, who include school security officers, instructional assistants, attendance clerks and noon supervisors, as well as members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, who include food service assistants, custodians, and aides to special education.
School district officials said all SEIU members will receive a 3 percent pay increase retroactive to Jan. 1. In addition, some unit members will receive additional salary adjustments to ensure that their wages meet or exceed $12.25 per hour, district officials said.
AFSCME also signed an agreement securing wage increases for any unit members currently earning less than $12.25 per hour, according to the school district.
Trish Gorham, the president of the Oakland Education Association, which represents about 2,600 teachers and other employees, said Tuesday that her union is still in negotiations with the school district. The talks have been going on for about a year.
She said the district and the union have been going back and forth with offers and counteroffers and the district put forth a new offer Tuesday which includes some minor improvements.
The school district said it recently offered a 10 percent raise over the next 18 months, plus an additional 1.5 percent if an expected increase in state funding comes through.
Gorham said in addition to a salary increase the union is seeking a cap on the size of special education classes.
For the past six weeks, teachers at some schools have been working the minimum number of hours to protest the slow pace of contract talks.
Gorham said the work action, called “work-to-rule,” has now spread to about 30 of the 86 schools in the district.
Ex-Supe Shirakawa Pleads No Contest To False Impersonation Charges
Former Santa Clara County Supervisor George Shirakawa on Monday pleaded no contest to falsely impersonating a 2010 campaign committee and will be sentenced to community service if he submits a statement explaining his role in the crime, a prosecutor said Tuesday.
Shirakawa’s plea came during a hearing late Monday afternoon in Superior Court in San Jose after his attorneys and a prosecutor discussed his case in the chambers of Judge Ron Del Pozzo, who offered a proposed sentence to resolve the case, Deputy District Attorney John Chase said.
Judges have the legal discretion to settle a case by giving what is called an indicated sentence “to avoid a trial if the judge thinks it’s necessary,” Chase said.
The sentence Del Pozzo suggested was community service with no jail time, but only if Shirakawa writes a statement for the record describing how his DNA appeared on phony campaign mailers sent out in 2010 to discredit San Jose City Council candidate Magdalena Carrasco.
Shirakawa conferred with his lawyers and then agreed to change his not guilty plea to the felony charge of impersonating Carrasco’s campaign committee while Carrasco was running for council District 5 against Shirakawa’s former aide Xavier Campos, Chase said.
Shirakawa, whose sentencing hearing on his felony conviction will take place on March 20, faced up to three years in prison on the charge.
The district attorney’s office investigated Shirakawa leading up to a grand jury indictment of him on the charge on Oct. 24, 2013.
Under the sentencing agreement, prior to the March 20 hearing, Shirakawa will have to provide the letter to be released into the public court record saying why his DNA was detected on the fake campaign mailer,
The sentence agreement is even better than a guilty verdict because that can be appealed without an admission of guilt, Chase said.
Shirakawa’s change of plea came hours after a hearing Monday morning when his lawyers filed motions with exhibits seeking to exclude DNA evidence prosecutors claim implicated Shirakawa in political flyers mailed during the 2010 council campaign to trick Vietnamese voters into believing Carrasco supported the Communist regime in Vietnam.
A trio of break-ins early Tuesday morning in Danville at two retail areas are similar to one that occurred last week, police said.
The break-ins on Tuesday happened between 3 a.m. and 5 a.m., according to police.
One of the break-ins was at the Rose Garden Shopping Center, located near Camino Ramon and Sycamore Valley Road East, police said.
The two other break-ins happened less than a mile away at the Crossroads Shopping Center near San Ramon Valley Boulevard and Hartz Way, according to police.
The three incidents on Tuesday are similar to one on Feb. 16, when two people broke into a Jamba Juice store on Railroad Avenue around 3 a.m., police said.
The pair destroyed store property and stole two cash register drawers, according to police.
Police are reviewing evidence and video footage from all the businesses’ surveillance systems, police said.
Retailers are advised to take out all cash from cash drawers at the end of the business day and leave any empty cash drawers open to discourage break-ins, according to police.
Anyone with information on the break-ins is asked to contact Danville police Detective Sgt. Brian Sliger by calling (925) 314-3703 or sending an email to [email protected]
Discovery Kingdom Relocates Last 2 Remaining Resident Elephants To Wildlife Park
Six Flags Discovery Kingdom this week transported its two remaining resident elephants to a drive-through wildlife park in Oregon, officials said Tuesday.
The elephants, 51-year-old Liz and 33-year-old Valerie, were moved to Wildlife Safari in Winston, Oregon in order to provide them with a more social environment than a herd of two individuals can provide, theme park officials said Tuesday. Both have been at Discovery Kingdom for around 20 years.
The park previously moved 37-year-old Tava, to the same facility two years ago.
Don McCoy, park president, said Tuesday in a statement “The decision to move our remaining resident elephants to Oregon was not an easy one.
“Liz and Valerie are beloved members of our family, and their departure marks the end of a truly remarkable era,” he said. “We remain committed to elephant conservation and educating the public about these amazing species whose populations are increasingly dwindling in the wild.”
The park will continue to feature elephants on loan from another facility.
Marin City Shooting Suspect Surrenders At Sheriff’s Office
A man suspected of shooting a man Friday turned himself in at the Marin County Sheriff’s Office in Marin City late Tuesday morning, a sheriff’s lieutenant said.
Theophilus “Theo” Wilson, 19, of Marin City, who went to the sheriff’s office with his grandparents and father at 11:50 a.m., was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder, Lt. Jamie Scardina said.
The sheriff’s office has not identified the 41-year-old Marin City man who was shot several times. Scardina said the victim is still recovering in a hospital.
The sheriff’s office responded to the shooting around 12:15 p.m. Friday and found the victim in the first block of Cole Drive in Marin City, Scardina said.
The sheriff’s office identified Wilson as the suspect and released his photo on its website Monday.
There were several witnesses to the shooting, Scardina said, and the sheriff’s office is asking them to contact the investigations bureau at (415) 473-7265.
Callers may remain anonymous and become eligible for a cash reward by calling Bay Area Crime Stoppers at 800-222-TIPS (8477).
San Mateo Teens Plead No Contest To Assault
Two San Mateo residents pleaded no contest Monday to assault charges in connection with a September robbery and assault, San Mateo County prosecutors said Tuesday.
Cristian Zarco, 18, and Rafael Morales, 19, appeared in San Mateo County Superior Court Monday and pleaded no contest to felony assault with an enhancement for infliction of great bodily injury in connection with the Sept. 6, 2014 attack, prosecutors said.
Prosecutors said the victim was walking home around 2 a.m. and cut through the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center, located at East Santa Inez Avenue and North Eldorado Street, in San Mateo.
The defendants approached him, saying they were Norteno gang members and hated Surenos. When the victim said he was not a gang member, they reportedly made him drink from a bottle of alcohol and then grabbed him and began beating him, prosecutors said.
The victim was beaten to unconsciousness and suffered injuries to his face and head, prosecutors said.
A passerby who saw the attack called police, who found Zarco nearby with the victim’s backpack. A warrant search of Morales’ home turned up the victim’s cellphone and bloody clothing, prosecutors said.
Zarco, who was 17 years old at the time of the attack, was charged as an adult in the case.
Both he and Morales face a maximum sentence of seven years in state prison, based on the terms of their plea agreement. They are scheduled to return to court on May 7 for sentencing.
Gift Cards Offered For Homeowners To Participate In Earthquake Survey
The California Earthquake Authority announced Tuesday that it is working with the City of Napa to learn more about how single-family houses fared in the South Napa earthquake that occurred Aug. 24.
Many of the older houses in Napa are particularly vulnerable to earthquakes. Experts hope that by understanding how those homes were affected by the quake, they will gain insight into the effectiveness of retrofitting techniques that can be used elsewhere around the state, according to the CEA.
To gather information, they’re conducting a survey and offering a $25 gift card for the first 500 homeowners to participate. The questions will focus on types of damage their houses experienced, and whether or not seismic retrofitting had occurred prior to the quake, according to the CEA.
The survey will be offered in English and Spanish, and the CEA estimates it should take 15 to 20 minutes to complete.
Researchers are particularly interested in retrofitted houses that were constructed before 1960. Some of those homes may be selected for an inspection by the CEA, and homeowners willing to participate in that phase of the project will receive an additional $50 gift card.
The California Earthquake Authority, based in Sacramento, is a privately funded not-for-profit that provides earthquake insurance and works to reduce the risk of earthquake related loss.
San Mateo Bridge Shutdown Protesters Appear In Court
The first group of protesters arrested during a Martin Luther King Jr. Day action that shut down the San Mateo-Hayward Bridge appeared in San Mateo County Superior Court in Redwood City this week on misdemeanor charges, according to prosecutors.
A total of 68 protestors, part of a Stanford University group calling itself Silicon Shutdown affiliated with the “Black Lives Matter” movement, were arrested after they failed to leave the bridge when ordered to do so, according to the California Highway Patrol.
The group, which said it was honoring King’s legacy and marching in response to the controversial Aug. 9 shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed black man, in Ferguson, Missouri, called for an end to police brutality and the demilitarization of local law enforcement. It carried a Palestinian flag “as a symbol of global struggles for justice,” organizers said.
All 68 of those arrested have been charged with obstructing the roadway, a misdemeanor, and will be tried separately, in part because the county cannot accommodate all of them in one trial, District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said Tuesday.
A total of ten of those defendants, the first ten to be arrested, appeared in court Monday and Tuesday, with others scheduled to appear on various dates in late March, Wagstaffe said.
All pleaded not guilty and most were assigned public defenders and ordered to return for trial dates in May and June, Wagstaffe said.
Two defendants Tuesday appeared with private attorneys, and one, Elliot Williams, appeared with well-known Bay Area attorney John Burris, known for his work in police shooting and brutality cases.
Burris said he had been brought into the case on the request of the family, but because the charge filed is a misdemeanor, an associate in his office will probably handle the case.
CHP officials said after the arrests that there were four confirmed collisions involving property damage or minor injuries during the protest, which shut down all lanes on the bridge for at least 25 minutes.
Anecdotally, there were several others handled by the parties involved with little or no CHP involvement, according to CHP spokesman Daniel Hill.
Manny Thompson, a Silicon Shutdown group member and organizer, said the group has made some efforts to help those arrested organize transportation to the court, learn their legal rights and talk to lawyers where appropriate.
Caltrain Service Resumes After Pedestrian Struck On Tracks
Regular Caltrain service has resumed after a woman was struck by a northbound train at the Palo Alto Caltrain station Tuesday morning, Caltrain officials said.
The woman is still alive and has been taken to a hospital for treatment, according to Caltrain officials.
Northbound Caltrain #143, which left San Jose at 11:10 a.m., struck the pedestrian at 11:45 a.m.
Train service was shut down in both directions. One track was reopened at 12:20 p.m., and full service resumed at 12:45 p.m., Caltrain officials said.
Around 200 people were on the involved train.
Weather Forecast For The San Francisco Bay Area
Skies will be mostly cloudy today with highs in the lower to mid-60s. Winds will be from the southeast at 5 to 10 mph in the morning and could reach 10 to 20 mph in the afternoon.
Skies will be partly cloudy in the evening. Lows will be in the lower 50s and west winds could reach 5 to 15 mph.
Skies will be partly cloudy Thursday with highs in the mid-60s and northwest winds of 5 to 15 mph.