Highway 50 in El Dorado County was closed again early Thursday because of backfires being set in hopes of slowing the King Fire, which more than doubled overnight to 70,994 acres and was only 5 percent contained, authorities said.
The highway was shut down at midnight between Ice House and Sly Park, just hours after it had been reopened, as crews set fires to slow the blaze's growth.
The fire, the cause of which is under investigation, is one of the largest and most closely watched of 11 out-of-control blazes burning in California.
Posted: September 18, 2014, 1:44 pm
The dogs, a young shepherd mix named Porter and a hound mix named Bandi, were plucked by Mill Valley native Christopher Salisbury from the streets of Ras Tanura, a city in the eastern province of Saudi Arabia on the Persian Gulf.
[...] his parents were already caring for an aging dog and a couple of cats and had no room in their home for two new pets, so the animals were brought to the Marin Humane Society, where they will should be available for adoption in the next few days, Bloch said.
Posted: September 18, 2014, 12:55 am
Mother whose daughter was killed urges more rail safety
Betti, whose 14-year-old daughter was fatally struck by a freight train in March, joined representatives from Caltrans and Amtrak at the Emeryville train depot to raise awareness about rail safety.
Betti's daughter Jenna died March 2 about a block away from her home in Martinez when she was struck by an eastbound freight train.
Jenna then tried to retrieve her phone from the tracks, was nicked in the back by the train and sucked under the wheels.
California sees about 600 train fatalities and injuries a year, the highest rate in the country, with about 20 percent of those occurring in the Bay Area, according to Caltrans.
Freight and passenger trains lumber through the dense urban area 24 hours a day, and the number of trains is only increasing as the economy rebounds.
Residents often complain about the train noise, but "we need to be having a two-sided conversation about train safety," she said.
Posted: September 17, 2014, 11:12 pm
The top aide to the head of the California Public Utilities Commission, forced from her post after e-mails showed she intervened in the selection of an administrative law judge to hear a Pacific Gas and Electric Co. rate case, is on paid leave from the agency but retains her current civil service rank - administrative law judge, The Chronicle has learned.
Carol Brown resigned as commission President Michael Peevey's chief of staff Monday after it became known that she had worked to assign a judge preferred by PG&E to determine how much customers should pay for the billions of dollars the company is spending on post-San Bruno disaster pipeline improvements.
PG&E ousted three vice presidents who it said were involved in the effort, including Tom Bottorff, the longtime head of regulatory relations who ranked near the top of the company's hierarchy.
Commissioner Mike Florio, who also sent e-mails to Cherry indicating he would try to influence the selection of a judge, has said he was not aware of the rules banning such intervention.
Administrative law judges play key roles at the agency, presiding over regulatory and rate-setting disputes and hearings.
State Sen. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, a frequent critic of the utilities commission, said the possibility that Brown could return to being an administrative law judge shows the agency is "an organization totally out of control with no sense of reality."
Posted: September 17, 2014, 9:20 pm
Three conservative judges accused a federal appeals court Wednesday of catering to "the will of the mob" by refusing to reconsider a ruling upholding Morgan Hill school officials' decision to ban shirts showing American flags on Cinco de Mayo for fear of ethnic violence.
The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled in February that given previous clashes at Live Oak High School, officials had reason for concern and thus did not violate freedom of speech when they refused to let students wear U.S. flags on their shirts on May 5, 2010.
Three students and their parents then sued the Morgan Hill Unified School District, citing a 1969 U.S. Supreme Court ruling upholding students' right to wear black armbands to class in a silent protest against the Vietnam War.
Posted: September 17, 2014, 6:40 pm
Tuesday, Sept. 16, draw and payouts
Mega MillionsJackpot: $62 million
25455153732MEGAFriday, Sept. 19, jackpot: TBA
Tuesday, Sept. 16 draws
Fantasy 519222733Daily 48318Daily 3 (midday)143Daily 3 (evening)497Daily Derby race time: 1:42.44
First05California ClassicSecond11Money BagsThird06Whirl WinSaturday, Sept. 13, draw
PowerballJackpot: $149 million
1616375327PballPrize categoryCalifornia winnersPrize amount per winner5 of 5 with Pball0$149,000,0005 of 51$1,098,6244 of 5 with Pball6$5,1944 of 5104$1013 of 5 with Pball170$973 of 55,505$72 of 5 with Pball2,886$61 of 5 with Pball18,292$3Matched Pball35,650$4Wed., Sept. 17, jackpot: $171 million
Saturday, Sept. 13, draw
Super LottoJackpot: $8 million
36373841475MEGAWed., Sept. 17, jackpot: $9 million
For lottery updates: www.calottery.com
Posted: September 17, 2014, 5:21 am
A Stanford social scientist who studies biases that creep into the thinking of people who don't realize they are prejudiced - and uses the information to help police avoid racial profiling - is among 21 winners of this year's lucrative MacArthur grants, to be announced Wednesday. Jennifer Eberhardt, 49, an associate professor of psychology, is the Bay Area's only winner of the $625,000 prize that rewards exceptional creativity and accomplishment, according to the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, which has named more than 900 people as MacArthur Fellows since 1981. In one example of the studies she's done, Eberhardt had participants sit at a computer screen where facial images flashed by so quickly, subliminally, that viewers weren't aware that they'd seen anything. Eberhardt works with law enforcement agencies to help them understand whether police are stopping some ethnic groups more than others - and what they can do about it.
Posted: September 17, 2014, 4:00 am
"[...] we're not defenseless," said the 5-year-old, who fled violence in her native Honduras with her mother, entered the United States illegally and is one of more than 2,000 cases of juveniles or parents with children who don't have lawyers as they negotiate fast-tracked deportation proceedings at immigration court in San Francisco.
The board voted to draw $2.1 million from a city reserve over the next two years to provide lawyers for undocumented youth and parents with children who are now residing in San Francisco as they await expedited immigration proceedings.
More than 25,000 deportation proceedings are pending in San Francisco, and, as of the end of June, at least 4,100 involved juveniles, according to an analysis of court data by Syracuse University's Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse.
Mayor Ed Lee, who has ultimate control over the city budget, said before the board vote that he would not fight over the amount of this supplemental appropriation, but that he wanted the money to flow as needed, rather than a large up-front outlay.
Posted: September 17, 2014, 12:22 am
Mayor Ed Lee, who is trying to raise $1 million in campaign cash to push his $500 million transportation bond over the finish line in the Nov. 4 election, got a firsthand taste of Muni's problems on Tuesday morning.
Lee, who lives in Glen Park, took the M-Ocean View train downtown before a meeting with The Chronicle's editorial board, and no, he didn't get a seat.
Lee said projects to be funded by his $500 million transportation bond would shave eight minutes from Muni commute times on major corridors - the current average is 20 to 25 minutes - synchronizing signals and re-engineering intersections to make them safer and faster.
Lee, though, said he wouldn't actively campaign against the measure, put on the ballot by a majority of the Board of Supervisors, because it could confuse voters and hurt the transportation bond, which needs a two-thirds vote to pass.
Mirian Saez, who previously oversaw leasing operations at the Treasure Island Development Authority, will "provide leadership to the organization and stabilize the day-to-day operations, including care, control and administration," said Bill Barnes, a spokesman for City Administrator Naomi Kelly.
During this interim period, Mirian will begin the development of a five-year strategic plan for the department and accelerate discussions of a new facility for a proposed bond measure as soon as November 2015.
Posted: September 17, 2014, 12:02 am
Authorities have located the body of a Glen Ellen man who went missing after a boat accident at Lake Berryessa more than a month ago, officials said.
According to the Santa Rosa Press Democrat, Winslow, known as "Deets," was a psychiatric technician at Sonoma Developmental Center and the longtime, celebrated coach of the Sonoma Valley High School wrestling team.
Posted: September 16, 2014, 11:42 pm
While the MTA regulates the taxi industry, the state Public Utilities Commission has claimed jurisdiction over the new ride services, which typically contract with people to use their personal cars to carry passengers who hail them with a smartphone app.
The new companies, unlike taxi operators, have lesser insurance requirements, no restrictions on the number of vehicles they put on the streets, no clean-air standards and less-stringent background checks.
Among biggest impacts of the ride services has been the drop in taxi rides taken by people in ramp taxis, which carry people in wheelchairs.
Director Malcolm Heinicke wants to make it mandatory for taxis to have e-hailing apps, and taxi drivers said they want the city to keep ride services and limousines out of transit-only lanes and taxi stands.
Posted: September 16, 2014, 11:19 pm
Consumer advocates who are calling for the scalp of California Public Utilities Commission President Michael Peevey for back-channel talks with Pacific Gas and Electric Co. appear to be a lot more forgiving when it comes to their own former colleague's conduct. At issue: PG&E's attempts to cajole state officials to pick its preferred judge to decide how much customers will have to pay toward the utility's post-San Bruno disaster pipeline improvements. In one e-mail, Florio told a PG&E executive that "I'll do what I can" to bounce an administrative law judge who wasn't to the utility's liking. [...] what's the difference between what Florio did and the role played by Peevey, whose chief of staff was in regular communication with PG&E about which judge would hear the rate case? Could the fact that Florio is also the consumer group's former senior attorney be a factor? PG&E and the watchdog agency both issued press releases acknowledging the inappropriate conduct - and the corrective steps they were taking - within minutes of each other Monday. According to the sponsor, Yuba County GOP Assemblyman (and congressional candidate) Dan Logue, small-business owners "account for 99 percent of the state's employers."
Posted: September 16, 2014, 11:08 pm
[...] government rules are catching up.
-- Test drivers must have a sparkling driving record, complete a training regimen and enroll in a program that informs their employer if they get in an accident or are busted for driving under the influence off hours.
-- Companies must report to the state any accidents, as well as how many times their vehicles unexpectedly disengage from self-driving mode, whether due to a failure of the technology or because the human driver takes over in an emergency.
Toyota, Chrysler, Ford and General Motors are "all running around here with some form of autonomous vehicle," said James Fackler, assistant administrator for the Michigan Department of State, which registers motor vehicles.
Posted: September 16, 2014, 11:08 pm
The remnants of Hurricane Odile, which battered the coast of Mexico, will bring more than a bit of much-needed rain to California this week as officials have issued warnings for riptides and strong swells along the Bay Area coastline.
The U.S. Coast Guard cautioned boaters, swimmers and surfers to take heed of stronger currents than usual, at least through Wednesday, with the most dangerous spots being south- and southwest-facing beaches in Marin and Santa Cruz counties.
Posted: September 16, 2014, 9:57 pm
Supervisor London Breed will announce Tuesday that she has lost confidence in the leadership of the San Francisco Fire Department, saying its inability to get ambulances to medical emergencies quickly is putting public safety at risk.
[...] Breed said she plans to draft a charter amendment, which would have to be approved by voters, requiring the department to maintain minimum levels of ambulance staffing and working equipment.
The Fire Department has increasingly struggled to get ambulances to medical emergencies to transport patients to the hospital, an issue that has been detailed in several city reports this year.
While fire trucks with at least one paramedic on board respond to all 911 calls within minutes to administer medical care, patients are regularly waiting for long periods for an ambulance to arrive - it happened 2,500 times in 2013, a fourfold increase since 2008 and 25 percent jump over 2012.
Earlier this month, the head of the agency's homeland security and special operations division was stripped of his post after he was accused of running into another car in his department-issued sedan, then fleeing the accident with his emergency lights on.
In May, two assistant chiefs were suspended for their handling of a 2013 incident in which an allegedly drunken firefighter struck a motorcyclist and left the scene before being tested for intoxication.
Posted: September 16, 2014, 1:01 pm