Wednesday Morning News Roundup
Supes Approve Overnight Parking and Tiny Homes Projects for Homeless
Parking rates at San Francisco meters are set to go up for the first time since 2009 after the city was forced to eliminate a service charge for those using credit cards to pay. The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency board Tuesday voted to eliminate the 27-cent service fee for the use of credit cards at meters.
The city learned after the fee was approved in July of 2015 that it violated a deal with Bank of America, the company handling credit card processing for the city, SFMTA officials said Tuesday. The fee was intended to cover the cost of the move to meters and pay stations that accept credit cards, which total more than $6 million annually.
To cover those costs, the board Tuesday voted instead to increase parking fees for everyone, including those paying by cash, by 25 cents. Parking meter fees have remained level since 2009, except in those areas where demand-based fees have been instituted. SFMTA director Ed Reiskin Tuesday said he expected to bring a proposal to the board later this year that would expand demand-based parking fees citywide.
Chow Jury Begins Deliberations
A federal jury in San Francisco will begin its second day of deliberations today in the racketeering and murder trial of Chinatown fraternal association leader Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow.
U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer gave the case to the jury Tuesday afternoon after one and one-half days of closing arguments in which prosecutors called Chow a “ruthless, opportunistic, ego-driven thug” and a defense lawyer painted him as a “charismatic leader” who had renounced crime.
The jurors deliberated for about two hours on Tuesday before recessing until 9 a.m. today. The trial began on Nov. 9. Chow, 56, became the leader or “dragonhead” of the Chee Kung Tong association several months after the previous dragonhead, Allen Leung, was murdered by a masked gunman at his Chinatown business office in February 2006.
Chow is accused of racketeering conspiracy for allegedly running a faction of the tong as a criminal enterprise.He is also charged with murder in aid of racketeering for allegedly ordering Leung’s death, conspiring to murder another rival, five counts of conspiring to receive or sell stolen cigarettes and liquor across state lines, and 154 counts of money laundering allegedly carried out between 2011 and 2013.
Chow, who testified in his own defense last month, claims that in 2003, after being released from a federal racketeering and gun trafficking sentence, he took a vow following three days of meditation at Ocean Beach to give up a life of crime. Prosecutors allege that although Chow sought to appear distant from crimes committed by his subordinates, he “called the shots” in their alleged stolen-goods trafficking and money laundering and took payments from them and from an undercover FBI agent who posed as a Mafia member.
“Mr. Chow corrupted the Chee Kung Tong, he brought in a bad element to the Chee Kung Tong, he was controlling or at least approving of the activities and he was profiting from it,” prosecutor William Frentzen told the jury during his rebuttal argument today.Defense attorney Tony Serra during his closing attacked the credibility of associates who testified against Chow and of the undercover agent, whom he called a “Judas liar.”
The case was “filled with frustration and desperation on the partof law enforcement because my client did not participate in any crime,” Serra told the jury today. “He told them that week after week and it was true,” Serra said. The prosecution claims the undercover agent gave Chow 26 or 27 cash payments totaling $61,500 over three years in compensation for introductions to associates who would collaborate with the supposed Mafia member on crimes.
Chow testified that he tried to refuse the money and believed the payments were gestures of love and respect.Serra urged the jury, in evaluating Chow’s testimony, to “sincerely and profoundly consider that he told you the utmost truth.”
(New provided by Bay City News.)