Passengers in a car that landed in an Antioch canal made it to safety Wednesday despite a deep and fast-flowing current, Contra Costa County fire officials said.
Media reports indicated that bystanders jumped into the water and broke windows to pull the occupants out.
Marshall said the canal is right next to the road where the vehicle entered the water, although the cause of the accident was not immediately known.
Posted: May 28, 2015, 3:18 am
The girl had been in distress because she had been trying to break up a fight between the male driver of the SUV and a female passenger, said CHP Officer Vu Williams. Officers later determined that the female passenger was subsequently arrested by San Francisco police on suspicion of domestic violence and child abuse, Williams said. A toll taker became concerned after seeing the girl kneeling in the center console and struggling with the passenger while screaming, authorities said.
Posted: May 28, 2015, 1:05 am
Uber will start construction in the fall on its new Mission Bay campus, a corporate headquarters development that will eventually be able to accommodate more than 3,000 workers.
On Wednesday, the app-based transportation company, which operates in more than 200 cities in 55 countries, released the first renderings of the 423,000-square-foot, two-building complex that will include an 11-story mid-rise at 1455 Third St. and a six-story structure at 1515 Third St. The design details were released as part of a “request for qualifications” process, through which Uber is seeking to recruit small and minority-owned businesses for the development team.
The heart of the campus, designed by SHoP Architects and interior designer Studio O+A, is a multistory “commons” — a glassed-in network of circulation and gathering spaces fronting Third Street.
The Commons features three angling glass and steel bridges crossing over Pierpoint Lane, a public pedestrian way.
Beniares said Uber was attracted to Mission Bay for its waterfront location, as well as proximity to public transit, new housing, parks, walking trails and other amenities such as AT&T Park and the proposed Golden State Warriors arena.
[...] the Uber workstations will be arranged in a series of work areas, each with access to shared support and collaborative work zones.
Posted: May 28, 2015, 12:43 am
Blind voters in Alameda County may soon have an easier time voting in privacy after settling a lawsuit requiring better testing and upkeep of audio equipment that allows them to cast push-button secret ballots.
The legal advocacy group Disability Rights Advocates announced the three-year settlement Wednesday after approval by county supervisors earlier this month.
Prompted by blind voters’ complaints about equipment breakdowns in the 2012 elections, the agreement includes requirements for pre-election testing of each machine, hands-on training of poll workers, and an election day hotline to quickly repair or replace nonfunctioning equipment.
A 2006 federal law requires election officials to install at least one machine in each polling place that allows blind and visually impaired voters to listen to voting instructions and ballot options on headphones and make their choices on tactile keyboards.
According to the lawsuit, breakdowns in four Alameda County polling places in 2012, and poll workers’ inability to fix the machines or find others that worked, required each of the five individual plaintiffs to cast their votes by announcing them to a poll worker or a family member.
[...] the county argued that the law guaranteed only an equal right to vote and not to a secret ballot, an interpretation that federal courts had endorsed in previous cases.
Posted: May 28, 2015, 12:42 am
Another steel rod anchoring the foundation of the new Bay Bridge eastern span tower failed a critical strength test, Caltrans officials acknowledged Wednesday, and two sources close to the bridge project told The Chronicle it made a popping noise, suggesting a crack.
“Hydrogen embrittlement and corrosion occurs over time,” said Steve Heminger, executive director of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission and one of three people on a committee overseeing the east span construction.
Dan McElhinney, the Caltrans official overseeing the bridge project, said it could have been caused by threads that were stripped during installation, by corrosion from sitting in water or both.
Caltrans officials said the test results should bolster the public’s confidence in the safety of the bridge.
“That would suggest it did not strip, but that it fractured,” said Bernard Cuzzillo, a Berkeley mechanical engineer.
Because a fracture results in a sudden release of elastic energy, which causes a pop or a bang sound.
Nearly all of the tower’s 424 high-strength rods — intended to provide added seismic protection for the landmark structure — stewed in water for a prolonged period, exposing them to possible corrosion.
Posted: May 28, 2015, 12:12 am
Man killed in Livermore mobile home fire
The victim, whose name was not immediately released, was found in a trailer at the Vasco Mobile Home Park at 6539 Southfront Rd. after police and firefighters responded to a blaze at 1:40 p.m., authorities said.
The fire fully engulfed the trailer where the victim was found and ignited a neighboring trailer, said Officer Traci Rebiejo, a Livermore police spokeswoman.
Posted: May 27, 2015, 11:37 pm
More than 15 years after one of Raymond Wong’s two girlfriends turned up dead in the Nevada desert, a jury began hearing evidence Wednesday against the former Pinole resident — including allegations that he tried to make it look like she was the victim of a white supremacist plot rather than a scheme to untangle a love triangle.
The evidence will show that Wong, while accompanied by the other girlfriend, killed 21-year-old Alice Sin with four gunshots, including a “coup de grace” between the eyes, prosecutor Mary Knox told jurors during opening remarks in Wong’s murder trial in Contra Costa County Superior Court.
“Once you’ve had an opportunity to put all these hundreds if not thousands of details together, you will be left with no other rational conclusion — that Raymond Wong premeditated the death of Alice Sin, acting with his co-conspirator Jessica Tang,” Knox said in the Martinez courtroom.
Famed defense attorney J. Tony Serra, meanwhile, told Judge John Kennedy that Wong’s side would reserve making an opening statement until after the prosecution had called all of its witnesses.
When police searched Wong’s home on Estates Drive, they found that Tang had already moved in with him — and that all of Sin’s possessions had been put in trash bags in the garage, the prosecutor said.
Motorists looking for mining claims found Sin’s partially nude body two months later off Interstate 80 in Churchill County, Nev., splayed over a badger hole.
Two 9mm semiautomatic bullet casings were found on Sin’s body, as were a dozen $500 bills from the Monopoly game, marked with the initials of two white supremacist groups, officials said.
A forensic examination revealed that Sin had been shot twice in the head and once each in her arm and back, and that her right breast and uterus had been cut out, Knox said, displaying graphic autopsy photos to the jury.
According to police affidavits, Wong failed a lie detector test and was listed as Sin’s beneficiary on a $2 million life insurance policy that he applied for but never collected on.
The e-mail message, claiming to be from a white supremacist group that was taking credit for the killing, was laced with racial slurs and said, in part, that Sin was killed “because our demans (sic) were not meet (sic) within the time frame.”
Computer records and witnesses placed Wong in the cybercafe, and the defendant acknowledged to an FBI agent he had been there, Knox said.
Police who served search warrants at his house after Sin’s slaying found stores of child pornography on his computers, leading to a 27-month prison sentence.
Posted: May 27, 2015, 11:13 pm
When San Francisco officials were negotiating over the price of a South of Market gas station site that the city wanted for a future subway station, they made the landowner a final offer of $5 million but tacked on a series of asterisks — the price was subject to approval by a federal agency and the city’s Municipal Transportation Agency and the Board of Supervisors.
The verdict came in more than $2 million above San Francisco’s offer, and the city’s losses were compounded Tuesday when a state appeals court ruled that the $5 million proposal had too many conditions attached to make it a reasonable settlement offer.
The city used its power of eminent domain to take over the land but engaged in several years of unsuccessful negotiations with landowner PCF Acquisitionco on the price.
The company then demanded reimbursement for its attorneys’ fees, expert witness payments and other court costs, which the losing side in an eminent domain case has to pay under state law unless it had made a reasonable settlement offer 20 days before trial, a determination left to the trial judge.
[...] the First District Court of Appeal sided with PCF, saying Tuesday that the owner of condemned property can’t reasonably rely on a settlement offer that depends on future approval by independent agencies and the Board of Supervisors.
The ruling is “an affirmation of the protections afforded by the California Legislature to property owners whose property is taken by eminent domain,” said Bradley Matteoni, a lawyer for PCF.
Posted: May 27, 2015, 10:29 pm
A man who was growing marijuana in a remote canyon in the southern Sierra Nevada last summer was sentenced to nearly seven years in prison and ordered to pay $6.5 million for lighting a burn that grew into the devastating 1,680-acre Nicolls Fire.
Perris (Riverside County) resident Edgardo Fournier, 46, who is also known as Edgardo Fournier-Nigaglioni, received the severe punishment Tuesday after admitting that he intentionally set a fire around his marijuana plants in July to fend off other pot growers who were chasing him, prosecutors said.
The fire raced out of control for a week across the Kiavah Wilderness Area in the Sequoia National Forest east of Bakersfield, causing $6.5 million in damage to public lands, according to the U.S. attorney for California’s Eastern District, Benjamin Wagner.
Punishments for sparking blazes on public lands have varied historically, but often fire-starters get less prison time or none at all.
The target shooter accused of starting a 2013 fire on Mount Diablo that burned 3,000 acres, for example, wasn’t charged after prosecutors determined the man was not criminally negligent.
Posted: May 27, 2015, 9:21 pm
Starbucks and Chipotle turned Afshar down, he says, but Walgreens considered moving into the planned development at Foothill Boulevard and Seminary Avenue, an area long inhabited by drug users and prostitutes.
Afshar’s company, Sunfield Development, says it will turn the site into 27,000 square feet of retail space, providing 52 construction jobs and 54 permanent jobs for the area, along with anticipated millions in property and sales-tax revenue for Oakland.
To draw national retail outlets to an area with a high unemployment rate, the city appears willing to bend over backward.
Oakland’s living wage, which raises minimum hourly rates to $14.10 without health coverage or $12.27 with coverage, kicks in whenever a project receives a city subsidy of $100,000 or more in a 12-month period, and employs at least 20 people.
At that point, he said, the project needed additional public funds to keep going, in part because construction costs had surged.
Larry Gallegos, development program manager at the city’s economic and workforce development department, said businesses willing to move into East Oakland are in a good negotiating position, since the area is so desperate to attract retail.
The city then awarded $6 million in federal tax credits to the project from the New Market Tax Credits program, which was launched by Congress in 2000 to spur economic growth in low-income communities.
The state’s decision to eliminate city redevelopment agencies in 2011 stalled several real estate projects that were in Oakland’s pipeline, including this one.
With Starbucks and Chipotle turning the city down because they perceived the area as a crime zone, he said, he’s now counting on Walgreens to make the project work.
[...] nonprofit organizations have raised questions about the city’s willingness to oblige a large corporation, especially when officials were considering the living-wage waiver.
“We saw a situation where it looked like Walgreens was putting pressure on the city to waive a requirement that was critical for any development that gets city subsidies,” said Jennifer Lin, deputy director of the community organization East Bay Alliance for a Sustainable Economy.
Posted: May 27, 2015, 7:59 pm
A man suffered life-threatening injuries after he ran across San Francisco’s Market Street and was hit by a car, police said Wednesday. Whether the pedestrian or driver was in the wrong is under investigation, but it appears the man was not in a crosswalk when the crash took place, said Officer Albie Esparza, a San Francisco Police spokesman. According to a 2013 city report, one out of every five trauma cases in San Francisco is a pedestrian hit by a car.
Posted: May 27, 2015, 6:14 pm
Father John Lo Schiavo, as beloved a college president as ever there was, was remembered Tuesday as a “rock star” who “had thousands of friends way before Facebook.”
In her eulogy at Lo Schiavo’s funeral on Tuesday inside St. Ignatius Church on the USF campus, Duryee asked mourners to stand if they had ever been married, baptized, received a letter of recommendation or attended a funeral presided over by the Jesuit priest.
At USF, he was a philosophy instructor, the dean of students, vice president of student affairs and chairman of the board of trustees.
There was no mention at the service of Lo Schiavo’s landmark decision in 1982 to suspend the popular men’s basketball program following repeated rules violations.
[...] Lo Schiavo said the basketball program, once a “source of inspiration for this university,” had led to USF being “perceived as hypocritical or naive or inept or duplicitous.”
[...] there was much talk at the service of his openness, good nature, love of sports, dedication and celebrity status in the town he loved.
Five years after LoSchiavo became president, donations hit in record amounts and USF was able to purchase the Lone Mountain property and add a wing to the law school.
Posted: May 27, 2015, 5:44 am
S.F. mayor pushing for special cameras to bust speeders
The cameras could be fixed or mounted on vans and first would be deployed near schools and seniors facilities.
“Unlike a regular speeding ticket, it would not be a moving violation and would not go on the person’s driving record,” Rose said.
[...] the speed-camera ticket would be more like a parking citation.
[...] as with a parking ticket, the car owner would be responsible for the fine — no matter who was driving.
Rose said none of the city’s legislative representatives has offered to author the change in state law that is needed to make the cameras a reality, but that the mayor would keep pushing no matter what.
The recent arrest of three baggage handlers at Oakland International Airport has East Bay Rep. Eric Swalwell calling for stricter controls on airline worker security.
Three Southwest baggage handlers were accused in a federal complaint of bringing suitcases filled with marijuana into an unsecured working area at the airport.
“Passengers going into the terminal area are screened and so are the pilots and flight attendants, but we have thousands and thousands of employees all over the country who can get near the plane with bags and they are not being screened 100 percent of the time,” Swalwell said.
Airport spokesman Keoni Wagner said the Oakland facility has bolstered its security program in a number of ways in recent years, including with enhanced video systems, more random screening of employees and new personal bag limitations for workers.
The Democrats were followed by Republican Assemblyman Rocky Chavez, R-Oceanside, at 6 percent, and former state GOP Chairman Tom Del Beccaro, at 5 percent.
“That means that most people do not have a clear idea about any of the people running,” said pollster Mark DiCamillo.
“That’s just something for insiders to talk about,” said Sanchez campaign consultant Bill Carrick.
The first carcass — an adult sperm whale — washed up April 14 in Pacifica.
Posted: May 27, 2015, 4:15 am
The executive who oversaw PG&E’s utility operation during the deadly San Bruno pipeline blast and the company’s turbulent aftermath will retire at the end of the year, company officials announced Tuesday.
Christopher Johns, president of Pacific Gas and Electric Co., the utility wing of PG&E Corp., was hired in 1996 to help manage the utility’s finances.
[...] it was his promotion to the electric company’s top job in 2009, a year before an exploding gas line killed eight people, that marked his tenure at the organization.
PG&E officials said Johns was a committed leader who worked to achieve “international recognition for gas safety performance” for the company.
The disaster resulted in a record $1.6 billion penalty for the utility, with state regulators citing PG&E’s shoddy record-keeping and reckless safety practices leading up to the blast.
The utility has also been criticized for nourishing too cozy of a relationship with regulators at the California Public Utilities Commission.
Posted: May 27, 2015, 3:51 am
The U.S. Supreme Court rejected a challenge by the pharmaceutical industry Tuesday to an Alameda County law, the first of its kind in the nation, requiring drug manufacturers to pay the costs of disposing of consumers’ unused medications.
Drug companies have resisted paying for off-site disposal programs and have maintained that unneeded pills can be discarded safely at home.
After Tuesday’s court order, industry groups led by Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America said they would seek to “educate consumers on the appropriate use of medicines,” including “safe, secure and effective methods for disposal.”
Supporters of the Alameda County ordinance, including the Natural Resources Defense Council, city and county governments, and Attorney General Kamala Harris, say manufacturers should bear the cost of keeping discarded drugs out of landfills and waterways for the sake of the environment and their customers’ health.
In July 2012, county supervisors approved the law to require the industry to pay for pickup and disposal of unused prescription drugs sold in the county.
Pharmaceutical companies, backed by trade associations and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, argued that the ordinance illegally shifts local costs to out-of-state drug producers and interferes with interstate commerce.
The ordinance allows manufacturers to pass their costs along by increasing prices, and Shartsis said they could recoup their expenses by charging Alameda County customers another penny, at most, for each $10 in sales.
In seeking Supreme Court review, drug manufacturers said that under the Ninth Circuit ruling, “virtually all interstate manufacturers can be converted into local collectors of unused products at the whim of local governments.”
The Constitution, the companies argued, does not allow state or local governments to force multistate companies to establish local operations, like drug-disposal sites, “to enrich local residents at the expense of non-local businesses and consumers.”
Posted: May 26, 2015, 10:29 pm