Last month, the state Department of Motor Vehicles canceled the license plate of a Southern California driver after grasping its double meaning.
Perhaps more shocking than the plate, though, was the fact that it had slipped by the sharp-eyed investigators who monitor for offensive requests at the DMV’s office of personalized license plates.
The three-person team, which reviewed more than 100,000 orders for vanity plates last year, rejects about 25 applications a day — requests like “BUBEEEE,” “BURN 01” and “M16 GRL” that run afoul of prohibitions on references to guns, drugs and certain body parts.
The DMV’s rejections in 2014, obtained by The Chronicle through a public records request, reveal a very creative — if at times salacious or scatalogical — driving public.
[...] the DMV rejected “GOT RUNS,” even though the person behind the request staged marathons and other road races.
While many of 2014’s requests, albeit vulgar, were mere child’s play, some were cruel attacks laced with racist and sexist innuendo and suggestions of violence.
The DMV took pains to avoid any references — even unintended — to sexual abuse or Adolf Hitler.
The salaries of the three reviewers are covered by the typical $98 fee for a personalized plate.
The DMV responses provided to The Chronicle were not sent to applicants, who got a letter of rejection with a more generic explanation.
“With thousands of spoken languages, dialects, and symbols in our world today, an offensive personalized license plate may slip through our rigorous review process,” Garza said.
Posted: April 27, 2015, 4:43 pm
A car crashed into a bicyclist in Sunnyvale on Monday, resulting in a fatality, police said. The collision happened at the intersection of West Fremont and South Mary avenues, according to the Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety. Details of the crash were not immediately released. Traffic was affected in all directions. Henry K. Lee is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @henryklee
Posted: April 27, 2015, 3:38 pm
BART says service is recovering after a major delay caused by smoke on a train near the 16th Street Mission Station in San Francisco. The smoke was caused by a mechanical problem on the East Bay-bound train, officials said. The trouble was reported about 7:15 a.m., and passengers were removed from the train and a station platform at 16th Street Mission.
Posted: April 27, 2015, 3:04 pm
A 9-year-old boy was stabbed to death Sunday morning in Discovery Bay, and an 18-year-old man was taken into custody in connection with the incident, authorities said.
Deputies responding to a stabbing on the 1900 block of Frost Way found that Jordan Almgren had been taken John Muir Health Outpatient Center in Brentwood by a family member and was later declared dead, authorities said.
The sheriff’s office identified Discovery Bay resident William Schultz as the suspect in the incident.
Westermann said investigators were looking into the possibility that Schultz was suffering from an unspecified mental condition.
Deputies had also been called to the home on Saturday on a request for a psychological evaluation of Schultz, authorities said.
Posted: April 27, 2015, 5:59 am
For those worried that San Francisco is losing its reputation as a destination for the unusual, the sights and sounds at Sunday’s 16th annual How Weird Street Faire should put their fears at rest.
San Francisco clown troupe TrashKan Marchink Band riled the crowd at the Dos Equis-sponsored stage with their combination of comedy and drill team antics.
The How Weird Street Faire initially grew out of a community of artists in the ’90s known as the Consortium of Collective Consciousness whose offices were located in the neighborhood.
CCC then founded the nonprofit organization World Peace Through Technology whose goal of creating transformative experiences through art, music and technology led to the first faire in 1999.
While the human plumage was considerable, with feathered headdresses and peacock embellished bikinis both widely employed costume elements this year, it was the literal plumage in one case that caused the biggest commotion.
“This is Yoda,” San Franciscan and first-time How Weird attendee Brent Andrada said as he released his 2-year-old Indian runner duck from its carrier.
Because even animals at How Weird are required to go in costume, Yoda was festooned in a tuxedo bib with matching black cloth shoes over his webbed feet.
The fair, which organizers estimate costs about $100,000 to produce every year, attracts locals and visitors alike, with Sacramento couple Molly and Joe Purvis among the out-of-town attendees.
Posted: April 27, 2015, 3:57 am
A chain of for-profit colleges, including the 150-year-old Heald College, abruptly shut down Sunday, leaving 16,000 mostly low-income students to seek an education somewhere else.
Corinthian, which also operated Everest and WyoTech colleges, had come under fire after a U.S. Department of Education investigation found the company overstated employment prospects for Heald graduates by exaggerating job placement numbers.
[...] the company faced lawsuits, including one filed by Attorney General Kamala Harris in 2013 for securities fraud and predatory advertising, among other claims.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau also sued for what it called a predatory lending scheme related to student financial loans.
“Department staff will immediately begin outreach to Corinthian students to review all their options, which may include loan discharges for students whose school closed,” said U.S. Department of Education Undersecretary Ted Mitchell.
What these students have experienced is unacceptable, and we look forward to working with Congress in an effort to improve accountability and transparency in the career college industry.
“We believe that we have attempted to do everything within our power to provide a quality education and an opportunity for a better future for our students,” said Jack Massimino, chief executive officer of Corinthian.
Unfortunately, the current regulatory environment would not allow us to complete a transaction with several interested parties that would have allowed for a seamless transition for our students.
Posted: April 27, 2015, 3:29 am
Storey County sheriff’s deputies say 59-year-old Robin Schmidt drove his motorcycle off an earthen embankment and became separated from it Saturday afternoon in Virginia City, about 20 miles southeast of Reno. The motorcycle race starts in the historic mining town of Virginia City, then winds its way through surrounding hills with speeds of up to 90 mph.
Posted: April 27, 2015, 2:55 am
For some reason, a phone number with the classic 415 at the helm is worth having, and people are willing to pay extra to get one.
The San Francisco company that leads the market in peddling vanity phone numbers is Phone Number Guy, and its website lists up-for-grabs 415 numbers and their sticker price as if they were cans of corn in the supermarket.
A spokesman for the Federal Communications Commission, which regulates phone numbers, said no one owns them and that Phone Number Guy might be getting an unwanted call of its own from FCC enforcers.
Not so, said Ed Mance, the owner and namesake of Phone Number Guy, whose 2-year-old website proclaims it is not selling numbers, but rather the “search, activation and account transfer” of numbers.
Mance, who formerly worked for Internet mapping and bed-and-breakfast websites, said he has “sold” about 2,000 numbers.
Prices are based on supply and demand, and the H-U-R-T and P-A-I-N numbers typically go to personal injury lawyers with money to spend.
“If those guys believe a phone number makes a difference, there’s got to be a reason,” Mance said.
Mance used to sell numbers on the online auction site eBay.
[...] two years ago, after a raft of complaints about “used” phone numbers that were linked to junk calls and other problems, eBay outlawed the trade, Mance said.
The phone number for the Chronicle advertising department — (415) 777-7777 — would be worth perhaps $50,000 if it were for sale.
[...] Mance said he is simply offering numbers that he acquires through his own means from other telecommunications companies, which are making money off the transaction, too.
The man whose job is to come up with new U.S. area codes said the desirability of legacy codes is a throwback to the old days, which, in the digital age, is anything before yesterday.
Joe Cocke, the senior area code planner for the North American Numbering Plan Administration in Sterling, Va., said people have been selling phone numbers for years and that Mance’s website is the latest wrinkle.
Transferring a phone number is permitted, but they cannot be sold, brokered or leased for a fee.
Illegal or not, nostalgia for certain legacy area codes — 415 in San Francisco, 212 in New York, 213 in Los Angeles — is antiquated in an age in which new area codes pop up every month or so to keep pace with demand, Cocke said.
If they move across the country, they keep their old area code, legacy or not, because it’s a nuisance to change.
Posted: April 27, 2015, 2:33 am
A man was shot and killed in Hayward on Saturday night, police said.
Several people called 911 to report gunshots just before 10 p.m. near Brae Burn Avenue and Gresel Street.
Police responding to the incident found the victim, who was shot several times. He died at the scene.
The identity of the man was not released pending notification of next of kin.
Anyone with information regarding this incident is asked to call the Hayward Police Department at (510) 293-7000.
Jill Tucker is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. E-mail: email@example.com Twitter: @jilltucker
Posted: April 27, 2015, 2:09 am
A portion of state Highway 1 in Marin County near Tomales Bay where a truck overturned and spilled thousands of gallons of milk late Sunday morning has reopened, according to the California Highway Patrol. Officers responded to a report of an overturned tanker on state Highway 1 a mile north of Nick's Cove around 11:45 a.m., CHP Officer Andrew Barclay said.
Posted: April 27, 2015, 12:46 am
Napa soccer coach accused of sending lewd picture to student
A Napa High School girl’s soccer coach was arrested early Sunday after a student reported he had sent her a text message with a photo of his genitals and propositioned her for sex.
Julian Vargas, 29, was taken into custody after Napa police officers served a warrant and interviewed him at his house at 12:30 a.m., several hours after the 16-year-old girl received the photo and reported the incident Saturday afternoon.
Vargas was booked into Napa County Jail on suspicion of “contacting a minor with the intent to commit a felony, harmful matter sent the intent to seduce a minor.”
Posted: April 26, 2015, 10:37 pm
A Google executive climbing Mount Everest died after he sustained a major head injury when his climbing team was caught in an avalanche caused by the powerful 7.8-magnitude earthquake in Nepal that killed scores of people across the country, his family and colleagues said on social media Saturday.
Google privacy director Lawrence You said Fredinburg was climbing with three other company employees.
The expedition company Jagged Globe reported the death on its website, saying Fredinburg, who was reportedly an experienced climber, was one of its Everest team members.
Fredinburg studied at UC Irvine and later Stanford before working for three years as a software engineer at Boeing, according to his profile on Google Plus.
While many in the tech world may shy from the spotlight, Fredinburg was a prominent and recognizable public figure.
The actress, who attended the White House Correspondents Dinner on Saturday evening, said in a message posted on Instagram that she was “devastated” by Fredinburg’s death.
Hamed Aleaziz is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer.
Posted: April 26, 2015, 5:11 pm
A properly predicted Clinton campaign conflict
Stories are popping up left and right about the millions of dollars from foreign powers that went to the Clinton Foundation while she was secretary of state.
[...] if foundation expenses show that the money helped pay for private jets and high-end hotels for executives or family members, it’s double trouble.
Some people think that’s where the new voter audience really is.
Christie is being flippant, funny and self-effacing, Best of all, he’s really doing a great job of not being political.
The only 49er representative I saw was general manager Trent Baalke, and he was off to the side, away from Mayor Ed Lee and the rest of us.
Hennessy put in 35 years as a deputy sheriff.
When she started, the Sheriff’s Department didn’t even have uniforms for women.
[...] Hennessy took the prisoner to the hospital, then waited around so she could bring her back.
Thing was, Hennessy didn’t know that area of town too well, so the prisoner had to give her directions.
Security operations are doing good business these days, and most of the execs are retired law-enforcement types.
Security firms packed the town last week for their annual convention.
[...] it should have been “sober security,” given the ’round-the-clock business that the bars around Moscone Center were doing.
Douglas plays a Beverley Hills investor who turns an accidental shot on a weekend elk hunt into a deadly game of cat and mouse with his guide, played by Jeremy Irvine.
Here’s a tip for you serious movie fans, or just those of you looking for some afternoon fun:
Last Sunday I caught “The Gunfighter” starring Gregory Peck, which was playing with “Ramrod.”
[...] I puffed up a bit at the attention and flashed her my best smile.
[...] she stood up, turned to me with that cute smile and said the words I never thought I’d hear: “Sir, would you care for my seat?”
Posted: April 26, 2015, 5:18 am
In the latest scandal to hit San Francisco’s Catholic Church, elementary school parents at Star of the Sea School have renewed calls for the ouster of the parish’s controversial pastor after learning of a decade-old civil court case in which a jury found he inflicted emotional distress on an 11-year-old girl at his former parish in Modesto.
The lawsuit in San Joaquin County Superior Court in 2005 said that when the girl came to the Rev. Joseph Illo in September 2001 to report alleged sexual abuse by another priest, the Rev. Francis Arakal, Illo called her a liar, yelled at her and forced her to confront Arakal.
The jury in the civil lawsuit did not find him liable for any wrongful touching, but awarded the family $20,000 for emotional distress based on how the incident was handled.
“Whether the story was real or not, he had no right to treat a child the way he did as a responsible adult in a position of authority,” said Christy Brooks, a parent of two students at Star of the Sea, a K-8 school.
Parents at the Richmond District school were already roiled after Illo introduced a new policy banning girls from serving Mass, and allowed pamphlets discussing such topics as masturbation, sodomy and abortion to be handed out to students as young as seven before they went to confession.
At a meeting with officials from the Archdiocese of San Francisco last month, more than 100 parents of Star of the Sea children pleaded for the removal of Illo and the Rev. Patrick Driscoll, the parish’s parochial vicar.
Posted: April 26, 2015, 3:00 am
When Alcatraz Island was being converted to a federal prison in the 1930s, opponents spread fears that it would negatively impact tourism.
Who will want to visit San Francisco when it gets a reputation for housing violent criminals?
“Most San Franciscans have long wished that a prison on Alcatraz did not have to stand right in the eye of the Golden Gate,” a 1933 San Francisco Chronicle editorial began.
Preferably after they’ve returned their headphones from the Alcatraz audio tour, but before they’ve bought multiple “Alcatraz Swim Team” T-shirts for the folks back home.
Lombard Street added its curves for practical reasons in the 1920s, when locals got sick of their cars stalling on the 27 percent grade.
Coit Tower was a private citizen’s tribute to firefighters.
San Francisco is the student who gets straight A’s without studying, or your smug friend who eats all he wants and never gets fat.
For the past 150 years, it seems as if city leaders, residents and Mother Nature have been in collusion to build the worst possible environment for an outsider to visit.
[...] yet there they are, another tour bus full, shivering in their Dolphin shorts and happily listening to their driver’s bad jokes and mostly invented San Francisco facts.
Politely asking for directions, getting a hurried response, then thanking us as if we had just fixed their transmission for free.
The Gold Rush was no different than you or me going to Las Vegas — hoping to quickly hit it rich, spend some money on something naughty that happens in Vegas and stays there, and then go back to where we came from as a conquering hero.
Industries were created to serve this transient population, and during times in San Francisco history when our other get-rich schemes have failed (see: the tech bust of the late 1990s) a strong tourist presence helped keep the city afloat.
Early Chronicle articles from the 1860s and 1870s projected a small town vibe, triumphantly announcing the latest C-list politician or celebrity’s plans to visit the city.
Telegrams were reprinted in the paper, marking their progress traveling across the states.
“The present influx of travelers to our shores is but the initial sign of what we might expect,” an 1870 Chronicle editorial stated.
The tide of tourists … threaten to overwhelm us with their exclamation of surprise, and volumes of narratives relative to the wealth and beauty of California — the brightest gem in the circle of States forming this blessed union of industry, intelligence, bravery and defenders of liberty.
City leaders would erect hasty, enormous, slightly tacky arches over Market Street to welcome minor military figures and East Coast finance leaders.
A place is discovered to have certain features — physical beauty, excellent climate, agreeable people — and these features are placed on the selling block for people who come from places that do not enjoy these advantages.
The streets seem to have been designed by M.C. Escher, and when you finally reach your destination, your parking meter might cost $4.25 per hour.
Who knows what goes through the mind of an uninitiated visitor, one who has just discovered that Market Street was designed like a broken zipper — impossible for locals to negotiate, much less someone who doesn’t know the language.
Moscone Center, once an institution that balanced serving local citizens and tourists, seems to have one objective now: harvesting events that will fill the most luxury hotel rooms.
Their money helped build the city more than any philanthropist, finance leader or tech star.
Posted: April 26, 2015, 3:00 am