The city of San Francisco agreed to a $725,000 settlement Friday for a former Police Department attorney who said Police Chief Greg Suhr fired her for exposing his mishandling of a domestic violence case.
The settlement was reached as jury selection was about to begin in Kelly O’Haire’s lawsuit against the city and Suhr.
Matt Dorsey, spokesman for City Attorney Dennis Herrera, said the city had agreed to the settlement after learning that O’Haire, unlike other Police Department employees who had been fired or demoted at the same time, hadn’t been allowed to stay at work for an additional period so that she could increase her retirement benefits.
Nichelman, who was the Police Department’s support services director, said in an interview Friday that a manager had told him without advance notice that he had to leave his office that afternoon, the same account O’Haire gave in a sworn declaration.
Suhr, now 56, was a deputy police chief when a friend phoned him and said her boyfriend had battered and choked her.
[...] contrary to binding Police Department policy, he did not attempt to arrest the boyfriend or file a report himself.
In a formal complaint with the Police Commission, she said Suhr should be fired because of his handling of the incident and his previous record, which included criminal charges of covering up a beating administered by three off-duty officers who supposedly wanted their victims’ bag of fajitas.
After Gascón was elected district attorney in 2011, Mayor Ed Lee promoted Suhr to police chief.
In court papers seeking to dismiss O’Haire’s suit, Herrera’s office said the firings were part of a $1 million cost-cutting effort that also included waiving Suhr’s bonus and having him drive a cheaper car.
The city’s lawyers accused O’Haire of sloppy legal work and said she had no basis for claiming Suhr had violated any law in the domestic-violence case.
Christine Falvey, a spokeswoman for Lee, declined to comment on the settlement, but said the mayor remains confident that “the chief is leading the department in the right direction.”
O’Haire spent nine years as a police officer and more than 10 years as a Marin County deputy district attorney before joining the San Francisco Police Department as an attorney in 2006.
Posted: April 25, 2015, 3:46 am
Agnes Chan, former S.F. schoolteacher and civic leader, dies
Agnes Chan, a retired San Francisco teacher and political activist, died in her San Francisco home after a heart attack on April 6.
Ms. Chan led several lives, as a mother, a teacher and as a civic leader.
Ms. Chan was a child musical prodigy, married young and had two children by the age of 21.
In her spare time, she was an usher in the city’s theatrical and music venues.
Ms. Chan is survived by a daughter, Maureen Gee of Las Vegas, a brother, Luke Chan of Sacramento, a sister, Fran Wong of Mountain View, a granddaughter and a great-granddaughter.
Monday at the San Francisco County Fair Building in Golden Gate Park.
Posted: April 25, 2015, 3:32 am
A State Bar Court judge has recommended that a San Francisco attorney be disbarred for taking $55,000 from the trust fund of a client who was in prison.
Michael Scott Keck removed the money to repay a debt to another client, lied to his imprisoned client and concealed his actions for four years, Judge Lucy Armendariz said in a ruling April 13. The bar suspended Keck from practice three days later.
Keck has practiced law since 1986 and had no previous record of misconduct.
Posted: April 25, 2015, 3:25 am
A winter-like storm is coming, as a fast-moving cold front is expected to drop down from the Gulf of Alaska and drop some much needed rain on Northern California late Friday night and into Saturday morning, forecasters said.
Rainfall totals are expected to be modest, with most places picking up between a quarter and a half inch of precipitation, Anderson said.
The system’s Alaskan origins will keep temperatures low, however, and Lake Tahoe will get some snow with 3 to 6 inches building up at lake level and up to a foot at elevations above 7,000 feet, said Jessica Kielhorn, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service’s Reno station.
Once this system blows through, a ridge of high pressure will build back in, Anderson said, with temperatures in the 70s to return by Monday.
Posted: April 25, 2015, 1:40 am
Kristen Go, an editor at The Chronicle since 2008, has been named to the newly created position of managing editor, digital, where she will run the media company’s growing online and visual operations.
Go was deputy managing editor at The Chronicle, providing digital and social media training to the staff and overseeing special projects and the Sunday newspaper.
Among other things, her high expectations make her the perfect person to help us reach new digital audiences for our multimedia journalism.
The new position makes Go one of the highest-ranking Asian American women in the country’s newspaper industry, Cooper added.
Posted: April 24, 2015, 11:25 pm
Dollar Tree has agreed to pay $2.7 million to settle a lawsuit alleging that it illegally threw hazardous waste products into trash bins, prosecutors said Friday.
Under a judgment issued by Judge Morris Jacobson of Alameda County Superior Court, Dollar Tree, which prides itself on selling items for $1 or less, must also implement an improved hazardous waste compliance program at its stores and distribution centers throughout California.
An investigation determined that employees at 480 Dollar Tree sites failed to take hazardous waste to authorized waste facilities and that corrosive liquids, toxic materials, batteries, electronic devices and other waste were instead illegally transported to local landfills not permitted to accept the material.
“Illegal disposal of hazardous waste in local landfills threatens to contaminate our groundwater and other waterways, posing serious health risks to our communities and future generations,” said Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley.
Posted: April 24, 2015, 10:52 pm
From residents hosing down driveways to homes sporting gurgling fountains, from badly aimed sprinklers to leaking municipal pipes and fire hydrants, Chronicle readers haven’t been shy about sharing what they see as bad behavior during the drought.
Beyond residential excess, there were complaints of institutional users like cities and schools — places that probably ought to know better — frittering away their supplies.
Take San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, where the sprinkler system has long been a source of frustration for the conservation-minded.
Water sometimes sprays wastefully onto roads and walkways, and, according to reader photos, it often pools on lawns and paths due to over-irrigating.
“The sprinkler heads could be turned if someone or animals accidentally hit them when they pass by,” wrote spokeswoman Connie Chan in an e-mail, who did not indicate what kind of animals may be to blame.
While illegal under the state’s new conservation rules, the practice is allowed when human health or safety is at risk.
San Francisco public works officials, worried about downtown filth — including of the human variety — helped push for the exemption,
At Mills High School in Millbrae, however, a conscientious passerby reported that walkways and parking lots were being power-washed over a recent two-day period for no justifiable reason.
University officials said the area is one of few on campus where a lawn is maintained for recreational activities.
Even with this attention to conservation, water consumption coordinator Eli Perszyk said the grassy areas are being re-evaluated and may be removed.
In the East Bay, another person concerned about thirsty turf questioned the decision of a state highway crew to plant sod along the interstate during a drought: “Why add new grass to the median on the 880 between West Oakland and Alameda?” he asked.
The agency is required by law to capture highway runoff and filter it, and a strip of lawn works well for the task.
The new grass on Interstate 880, as well as at another site on Interstate 80 between University Avenue and Gilman Street, is being irrigated with recycled water until the sod’s roots take hold.
Posted: April 24, 2015, 6:41 am
Caltrans knew the new Bay Bridge eastern span’s supposedly watertight steel support structure leaked in the rain as early as 2012 — more than a year before the bridge opened — and warned that the water could cause corrosion, documents obtained by The Chronicle show. The first leaks, discovered nearly two years earlier, left water standing inside more than two dozen massive steel boxes — 90 feet wide and as much as 120 feet long — that are welded together to form the road decks. Water was apparently entering the span in small gaps between the hollow steel bridge decks and the cross beams that link them together. [...] Schram proposed a modest $373,000 plan that involved drilling more holes to allow water to drain out of the bottom of the steel decks and cross beams. When The Chronicle asked about the problem in early 2014, Caltrans officials said they had expected some leakage all along and had incorporated drainage holes, called weep holes, to let the water escape out of the bottom of the steel boxes. In late January 2014, the executive director of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, Steve Heminger, complained that the leaks and other corrosion-related problems — including brittle bolts and water seepage onto steel that supports the bike path — were part of a pattern that “smacks of utter carelessness.” Caltrans indicated in contract documents that it was to blame for the guardrail leaks by agreeing to a contractor’s request to eliminate steel plates that were supposed to divert water away from the rails. The fix for the leaks, which included more caulking around the bolt holes and the steel plates used to anchor the rails, has failed to stop the problem. The bridge still leaks, officials acknowledge, and water is pooling near high-strength steel rods that secure the main cable. “Dealing with critical factors like this takes time, money and knowledge — in this case, they don’t seem to be willing to devote any of the three,” said Bob Bea, a UC Berkeley civil engineering professor emeritus who studies failures in major infrastructure projects. Lisa Fulton, a Berkeley-based corrosion expert who has studied the bridge, said the fact that the standing water had been present for years bolsters her conclusion, based on the photographs taken inside the steel structure, that there is active corrosion.
Posted: April 24, 2015, 3:50 am
John Brooks, a real estate developer who helped found both the city of Fremont and the Oakland Raiders football team, died of heart failure in his sleep April 16 at his San Francisco home.
Later in life, he was appointed a rear admiral in the U.S. Maritime Service by President George W. Bush.
Mr. Brooks made a fortune in the real estate business, occasionally dined with presidents and still found time to serve meals to the homeless at St. Anthony Dining Room in San Francisco.
Later in life, Mr. Brooks loved to tell stories of how as a young man he was able to run an engine room full of hard-bitten Navy men.
In 1945, he returned to the United States and married Barbara Matthews, who had been his sweetheart since middle school.
Mr. Brooks then graduated from law school, though he never practiced law.
In his last year of law school, he took a real estate sales job and was quickly fascinated with the possibilities of being a developer.
“He thought he could produce affordable housing in the Baby Boom era,” said Matt Brooks, his son.
[...] Highway 17 was a two-lane road, and the small towns of Centerville, Mission San Jose, Irvington, Niles and Warm Springs were mostly farmland.
Mr. Brooks was also active in politics, though he never ran for public office himself.
Posted: April 24, 2015, 12:46 am
The owner of the recently vacated Lombardi Sports building on Russian Hill has shelved a plan for a housing development, and instead hopes to lease the building to the retail giant Target.
Target would occupy the entire 50,000-square-foot structure as part of a Bay Area expansion that has already resulted in new stores at the downtown Metreon and the old Mervyn’s space at Geary Boulevard and Masonic Avenue.
In October, The Chronicle reported that Lombardi Sports, which had operated in several locations in the city since 1948, would close its most recent home at Jackson and Polk to make way for 62 condominiums.
[...] members of the Lombardi family, who owned both the business and the property, said the business had been hurt by poor ski seasons combined with ever-increasing pressure from online retailers.
While Village Properties was working on plans for the housing development, Target approached them with a highly lucrative offer — upward of $1.5 million a year in rent, according to retail brokerage sources.
Target, based in Minneapolis, is likely to face stiff opposition from residents and Polk Street merchants who say that the big-box retailer would generate traffic, hurt mom-and-pop retailers, and be out of character on a commercial corridor dominated by locally owned boutiques.
Tina Moylan, president of the Russian Hill Neighborhood Association, said Target’s efforts to take over the Lombardi space have become the hot topic in the neighborhood, along with the Market on Polk grocery store proposed to take over the old Big Apple Discount Center at Polk and Clay streets.
“I’m hearing a lot of positive stuff about the Market on Polk and a lot of talk about 'what can we do to stop Target,’” said Moylan.
Duncan Ley, who owns the Tonic and Bullitt bars on Polk and is president of the Polk District Merchants Association, said he preferred the previous plan for residential development on the Lombardi site.
Kurt Kober, an associate director of sales at Clorox who lives on central Nob Hill, said adding Target would actually increase the amount of money he spends at local retailers along Polk Street.
Posted: April 23, 2015, 10:47 pm
A state appeals court overturned a Redwood City man’s manslaughter conviction Thursday for a car crash that killed an 8-year-old girl, saying prosecutors violated the man’s right to remain silent by arguing that he showed indifference to his victims’ fate by failing to ask police about their condition.
Tom, who was in the real estate business, first asked officers if he could go home, then chatted with them briefly in the patrol car, but said nothing when he was questioned at the police station.
The prosecutor returned to that point during closing arguments, telling the jury that Tom’s failure to ask about the victims showed he didn’t care about them and was concerned only with “saving his own skin.”
The appeals court first overturned Tom’s conviction in 2012, but was overruled in August 2014 by the state Supreme Court, which said prosecutors can refer to a suspect’s silence unless the suspect has clearly told police he or she won’t discuss the subject.
Told to reconsider Tom’s case, the appeals court again threw out his conviction Thursday, saying he had told police that he would not make a statement without an attorney present.
Posted: April 23, 2015, 10:36 pm
Starting May 15, city water customers will have to reduce their water consumption by 25 percent compared with 2013 or pay a penalty that varies with how much a customer went over the limit and for how long.
The conservation policy, approved Tuesday by the City Council, comes as state officials draft mandatory cuts for water agencies across California amid a fourth year of drought.
The state’s proposed reduction figures have prompted several places, such as Pleasanton — which faces a 24 percent mandatory cut citywide — to take action.
The city of Beverly Hills, one of the state’s biggest per-capita water users, also approved a cap on its water customers this week in an effort to meet its proposed 36 percent reduction.
The East Bay municipality saw its water supply dip significantly last year and was forced to enact an almost identical conservation policy.
Posted: April 23, 2015, 10:32 pm
The group is the official San Francisco Democratic Party, and its endorsements for other political offices are among the most significant to voters.
[...] while the endorsement was not unexpected, it comes several months earlier than usual and two months before the June 9 filing deadline for mayoral candidates.
Among the five who voted no were Supervisor David Campos and state Sen. Mark Leno, who considered running against Lee but decided against it.
Both expressed concern — Leno was absent but represented by a fill-in — about endorsing Lee before the filing period closed.
Posted: April 23, 2015, 10:02 pm
Drivers in San Francisco would be wise to steer around Van Ness Avenue at Geary Boulevard and Post Street, which will be closed for 72 hours starting early Friday and continuing through the weekend to allow for construction of a pedestrian tunnel for the new California Pacific Medical Center campus. BART riders in the East Bay will have to take a bus connection, which could add up to an hour to trips, between the Coliseum and Fruitvale stations beginning at 7 p.m. Saturday and continuing all day Sunday — when the Oakland A’s have a home game. [...] Muni and Golden Gate Transit buses and emergency vehicles will be allowed access, and pedestrians will be permitted to use the sidewalk on one side of the street. During its weekend closures, BART officials are advising riders to avoid trips that include the closed stretch if at all possible. BART is replacing old and decaying railroad ties and worn rail that has forced it to slow trains traveling through the area. BART officials have attempted to schedule most of the closures around major events at the O.co Coliseum and Oracle Arena, but Sunday is one of three games likely to be affected, said Alicia Trost, a BART spokeswoman.
Posted: April 23, 2015, 9:04 pm
Posted: April 23, 2015, 5:57 pm