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Wednesday Morning News Roundup

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Firefighters knocked down one-alarm fire at a Pittsburg apartment Tuesday night, a Contra Costa County Fire Protection District dispatcher said.

The fire was reported in the first block of Altruas Avenue around 9:30 p.m., the dispatcher said.

The blaze at a one-story apartment building was knocked down by about 9:50 p.m., according to the dispatcher.

No injuries were reported.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

A vehicle crash that left one person injured and disrupted public transit services in San Francisco's Outer Parkside neighborhood Tuesday night has been cleared from the roadway, a fire dispatcher said.

Emergency crews responded to the crash at 46th Avenue and Taraval Street around 8:15 p.m. and found that a person had driven their vehicle into a parked vehicle, the dispatcher said.

The driver was transported to San Francisco General Hospital for treatment, according to the dispatcher.

The San Francisco Municipal Railway's L-Taraval line was blocked by the crash and a Muni bus shuttle was set up along the line to help riders transit through the area.

Fire crews cleared the scene at about 10 p.m., the dispatcher said.

The cause of the crash remains under investigation and the extent of the driver's injuries has not yet been released.

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to change the name of Lech Walesa Street to Dr. Tom Waddell Place.

Supervisor Jane Kim proposed the name change earlier this year after Lech Walesa, a Polish politician who won the 1983 Nobel Peace Prize after co-founding the Solidarity independent trade movement, said publicly that gay people should not hold prominent political positions.

Tom Waddell was a local gay activist who created the Gay Olympics, later renamed the Gay Games, and worked at a health center on the street that now bears his name. Waddell died of AIDS in 1987 at the age of 49.

The change "in no way takes away from Lech Walesa's achievements," Kim said when she introduced the proposal. "However, his recent comments are not representative of the city I'm a part of and its values of inclusiveness."

The Tom Waddell Health Center includes a transgender clinic and "serves our most vulnerable and low-income residents," Kim said.

The street is a small alleyway located between Grove and Hayes streets and Van Ness Avenue and Polk Street. The streets signs will continue to read "Lech Walesa Street" in smaller letters under the new name for a five-year transitional period.

Mountain View police are asking for the public's help in locating a 27-year-old Wisconsin woman missing since early Sunday morning.

Blair Foley was last seen leaving a Lucky's Supermarket at 715 E. El Camino Real around 2 a.m. on Sunday, police spokesman Sgt. Saul Jaeger said.

She was in the Bay Area for work and was scheduled to return to Wisconsin this Friday, Jaeger said.

Foley is described as a white woman standing about 5 feet 6 inches tall and weighing about 130 pounds with blonde hair and blue eyes.

She was last seen wearing a green and gray T-shirt and dark pants and was carrying a pink backpack and black purse, Jaeger said.

Police are concerned for Foley's welfare because she is from out of the area and has been missing for a long period of time.

According to Jaeger, Foley has a history of binge drinking and was last seen intoxicated.

According to Foley's LinkedIn profile, she is employed as a marketing data scientist at Adioso, a travel search app company based in Australia.

Foley's LinkedIn profile also states that she received both her bachelor's and master's degrees from Stanford University.

Anyone with information on Foley's whereabouts is asked to call Mountain View police at (650) 903-6395.

PG&E Co. was charged in a revised grand jury indictment in San Francisco Tuesday with a new criminal count of obstructing justice in a probe of a fatal pipeline explosion in San Bruno in 2010.

U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag said the superseding indictment also charges the utility with 27 counts of willfully violating the federal Natural Gas Pipeline Safety Act in its recording-keeping and pipeline management practices.

The original indictment against PG&E, filed April 1, contained 12 counts of violating the pipeline safety law.

Haag said the grand jury charged PG&E with obstructing the National Transportation Safety Board's investigation of the San Bruno explosion and fire, which killed eight people and injured 66 others on Sept. 9, 2010.

She said the indictment alleges that during the investigation, PG&E provided a version of a policy outlining the way in which it addressed manufacturing risks on its natural gas pipelines.

PG&E later withdrew that version, claiming it was produced in error, and was an unapproved draft. In fact, PG&E allegedly was operating under the so-called unapproved draft from 2009 through April 5, 2011, the U.S. attorney said.

Haag said the consequence of that practice was that PG&E did not prioritize as high-risk and properly assess many of its oldest natural gas pipelines, which ran through urban and residential areas.

PG&E's next scheduled court appearance is a status conference before U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson in San Francisco on Aug. 18.

If the utility is convicted, the 28 charges each carry a potential maximum fine of either $500,000 or twice the amount of either PG&E's gain or the victims' loss from the alleged crimes. The indictment alleges that PG&E's gain was $281 million and the victims' loss was $565 million, Haag said.

San Francisco Supervisor Eric Mar introduced legislation Tuesday that would encourage retail employers to offer employees full-time employment and discourage them from giving their workers unpredictable hours.

If passed, the Retail Workers Bill of Rights, which would apply to formula retail stores with 11 or more outlets nationwide, would offer protections to 100,000 San Francisco workers, according to Michelle Lim, an organizer with Jobs with Justice, which helped develop the ordinance.

"Workers are not just living paycheck to paycheck, but hour to hour," Mar said as he introduced the legislation in the Board of Supervisors meeting.

Many retail workers are subject to working hours that change every week, making it difficult to earn a stable wage and arrange for child care with an unpredictable schedule, Lim said.

At a news conference announcing the legislation, former Gap manager Frank Ladra described how his store required employees to be available for at least 28 hours per week but sometimes only employed them for 10.

"Each store slotted only certain full-time hours," Ladra said.

The Retail Workers Bill of Rights would require businesses to pay employees for four hours of work during periods they were required to be on-call, or when shifts were cancelled with less than 24 hours notice.

The legislation would also require employers to offer additional hours to existing employees before hiring more part-time workers or using a temp agency.

Having stable hours makes it easier for workers to take on second jobs, which is often a necessity as the cost of living increases in San Francisco, according to the legislation's advocates.

Supervisor David Chiu, an ordinance co-sponsor, said, "We are in the midst of an affordability crisis."

The Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to send a measure that would raise San Francisco's minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2018 to the November ballot.

But raising the minimum wage isn't enough to protect workers, Mar said.

The Board of Supervisors will hold hearings on the legislation in September, Mar said.

The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to place a quarter-cent sales tax hike on the November ballot.

The measure that will raise an estimated $20 million annually will need the approval of 50 percent of the voters plus one vote.

On Aug. 5, the board will consider placing on the November ballot a companion advisory measure directing 90 percent of the tax revenue be spent on road maintenance and 10 percent on transit in the unincorporated areas of the county and in its nine cities and towns.

The advisory measure also will need a simple majority approval by the voters.

Under the long-term road maintenance plan, $40 million will be spent annually to improve roads in the county. Half of that amount will be dedicated to pavement preservation.

The $40 million includes the ongoing use of existing revenue of $23.4 million, $8 million from the county's general fund budget and the county's $8.7 million share of the $20 million tax revenue. The county's eight cities and the Town of Windsor will share the remaining $11.3 million sales tax revenue for roads.

The annual $40 million will allow the county to bring 700 miles of the 1,348 miles of roads in the county up to good condition in 10 years and improve all roads in the county over the next 20 years.

The Sonoma County Transportation Authority will provide administration and oversight of the tax revenue.

The Board of Supervisors has spent about $8 million in one-time funding on roads in each of the last three years. Board members Tuesday called road maintenance a "legacy issue" that has not been adequately financed over the past 30 years.

The board Tuesday afternoon also approved placing a one-eighth cent sales measure on the Nov. 4 ballot for the county library system's operations, programs, construction and modernization in the incorporated and unincorporated areas of Sonoma County.

The library tax, not to exceed 10 years, will generate $10 million annually. A final vote on the library tax proposal is scheduled for Aug. 5.

Both tax proposals face an Aug. 8 deadline to be included on the Nov. 4 ballot.

A knife-wielding suspect set fire to the floor of a Mission District grocery store on Monday evening, police and fire officials said.

The suspect walked into the Foods Co. grocery store at 1800 Folsom St. at 6:30 p.m. and started pouring lighter fluid on the floor, according to the fire department.

The suspect was waving a knife and set the floor on fire, police said.

The fire department responded and quickly put the fire out. Two of the store's employees were taken to a hospital for treatment of smoke inhalation, police said.

Police quickly arrested the suspect, identified as Shaun Lavell Jones, 24. Jones was born a male but identifies as a female, police spokesman Officer Albie Esparza said.

Jones was booked on suspicion of burglary and arson, Esparza said.

Scores of firefighters controlled a three-alarm brush fire triggered by a car fire and that blackened 12 acres outside East San Jose north of Alum Rock Park, a San Jose Fire Department captain said.

About 50 or 60 city firefighters joined the Milpitas Fire Department, the Spring Valley Volunteer Fire Department and a "heavy response" from Cal Fire to control the fire, San Jose fire Capt. Cleo Doss said.

City firefighters received a call from Cal Fire, which coordinated the battle, for assistance at 2:35 p.m. Tuesday off of Sierra Road outside of East San Jose, Doss said.

The driver of a car on Sierra Road ran off the roadway and crashed, igniting the car on fire, which then sparked grass on the roadside and started the blaze, according to Doss.

Crews contained it to 12 acres and were mopping up shortly after 4 p.m. Tuesday while some units were being released from the scene, firefighters said.

No one was reported injured in the fire.

Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley said Tuesday that an agreement to extend the Oakland A's lease at the Coliseum for another 10 years positions the county and the city of Oakland to keep the baseball team in Oakland permanently.

Shortly before the Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to approve the agreement, which was reached after 14 months of negotiations, Miley admitted "there are no guarantees" that the A's will stay in Oakland because the pact includes an escape clause that allows the A's to leave the Coliseum after the 2018 season.

But Miley, who is chair of the Alameda County Coliseum Joint Powers Authority, the board that oversees the Coliseum, said local officials have "built up a lot of goodwill" with the A's and he thinks the team is now thinking seriously of building a new stadium at the site.

In fact, Miley said A's owner Lew Wolff is interested in participating in a development project at the Coliseum property.

The final step is a vote by the board of the Alameda County Coliseum Joint Powers Authority on Aug. 6. The JPA's attorney, Jon Streeter, said he expects the board to approve the agreement because it voted to approve an earlier version of the lease on July 3.

The agreement approved by the Board of Supervisors Tuesday includes changes that the Oakland City Council made two weeks ago and were approved by the A's last week.

The most significant amendment made by the City Council and approved by the A's and the Board of Supervisors would free the city of Oakland and Alameda County from liability if the Raiders, who also call the Coliseum home, violate the terms of their lease at the stadium.

Miley said if the A's leave the Coliseum after the 2018 season they would still have to pay rent at the stadium until the end of the agreement in 2024 unless it moved to another site in Oakland.

The agreement also allows the city to force the A's out of the Coliseum if a deal to develop the site and build a new football-only stadium there for the Oakland Raiders materializes.

In its current state, the Coliseum transforms from a baseball diamond to a football grid during the team's respective seasons.

The city of Oakland is negotiating with a team of developers that hopes to build a new stadium for the Raiders at the Coliseum site.

Streeter said it's estimated that the lease agreement will bring a net benefit of $14 million to the city and county over the next 10 years.

He said that amount includes the A's lease payments, the A's commitment to spend at least $10 million for a new scoreboard at the Coliseum and a small reduction in the bond payments the city and county have to make every year to pay for the cost of improvements to the stadium that were made to lure the Raiders back to Oakland in 1995.

Alameda County Administrator Susan Muranishi said the city and county have $191 million in debts at the Coliseum site, consisting of $106 million for the stadium where the A's and Raiders play and $85 million for the Oracle Arena, where the Golden State Warriors team plays.

The city and county each have to pay $10 million a year to pay off the debt, she said.

Alameda County Auditor-Controller Pat O'Connell said the A's lease agreement would allow the city and county to each reduce their payments by up to $700,000 a year.

Miley said that if the A's decide to build a new stadium at the site and participate in a development there they might even pay off all the debts owed by the city and the county.

"If I can help us get out from under this burden financially, I'll do so," Miley said.

He said private entities such as sports teams "can manage a sports facility better than a government entity can."

A SWAT team and bomb squad used robots to search a Hayward home where authorities tried to evict residents Tuesday morning, a police spokesman said.

Alameda County sheriff's deputies tried to serve an eviction notice in the 2700 block of Gainesville Avenue at 9:58 a.m., Hayward police Sgt. Ryan Cantrell said.

Inside the home, the deputies found "suspicious" notes and notices and called the Hayward police SWAT team and the sheriff's office bomb squad, Cantrell said.

The SWAT team and bomb squad surrounded the home and used robots to search it Tuesday afternoon, Cantrell said.

The attorney for a man charged with his brother in the 1989 murder of the man's wife in San Jose said Tuesday that prosecutors want to consolidate the criminal cases because their cases against each man individually are "weak."

Michael Cardoza, lawyer for murder defendant David Zimmer, said the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office wants to use emotional arguments against his client and misleading DNA evidence against the second defendant Robert Zimmer.

"The district attorney is taking a very weak case against my client and trying to bolster an equally weak case against Robert," Cardoza said.

Prosecutors are seeking to take "a lousy case and put them together to make them stronger," Cardoza said.

David Zimmer, 66, and his brother Robert, 70, are accused of murder in the strangulation death of David's 38-year-old wife Cathy, whose body was found wrapped in a quilt in the rear of her car parked at San Jose International Airport on March 10, 1989.

Today, a judge in Santa Clara Superior Superior Court in San Jose is scheduled to rule on a motion by prosecutors to join the cases against the Zimmers and try them together. The court is also scheduled to set a date for the start of David Zimmer's murder trial.

Deputy District Attorney Ted Kajani could not be reached for comment Tuesday, but has said that David Zimmer had a financial motive to kill his estranged wife and that DNA evidence implicates Robert Zimmer.

Kajani has also said that prosecutors have additional proof of the Zimmer brothers' guilt that has not been released to the public.

The district attorney's office announced on March 7 that the Zimmer brothers had been arrested on suspicion of murdering Cathy, who was last seen on March 8, 1989.

David Zimmer was arraigned on March 10, the 25th anniversary of when Cathy's body was found, and pleaded not guilty. Robert Zimmer was arraigned earlier on Feb. 27 but did not enter a plea.

Both men are being held without bail at the Santa Clara County Main Jail.

A bicyclist remained in the hospital with life-threatening injuries Tuesday after he and five other people were hurt when a fleeing suspect crashed a stolen van in San Francisco's Tenderloin neighborhood Monday night, a police spokesman said.

Anthony Wisner, 25, was booked on suspicion of driving a stolen vehicle, felony hit-and-run, driving with a suspended license, altering or forging license plates, reckless driving, a pedestrian right-of-way violation, running a red light and six counts of speeding, police said.

Wisner allegedly fled in the stolen van when police attempted to pull him over for a traffic violation at Larkin and Post streets at 10:18 p.m., police spokesman Officer Albie Esparza said.

The driver fled and ran a red light before colliding with a taxi three blocks away near Post and Jones streets, Esparza said.

The impact of the collision sent the vehicles onto the sidewalk, injuring two men nearby, a bicyclist and a pedestrian.

The bicyclist, a 29-year-old man, suffered a life-threatening head injury, Esparza said. The 60-year-old pedestrian's injuries were not life-threatening.

Both men were taken to San Francisco General Hospital for treatment. The taxi driver and an occupant in the cab were also taken to the hospital with injuries that were not life-threatening, Esparza said.

A 38-year-old woman who was a passenger in the stolen van was trapped after the crash. She was extricated and also taken to the hospital, Esparza said.

The woman is cooperating with the investigation and is not facing criminal charges, police said.

Wisner allegedly ran from the crash scene, but was taken into custody after boarding a westbound San Francisco Municipal Railway 38-Geary bus. He was taken to the hospital for treatment of minor injuries he suffered in the crash and was later booked into jail, police said.

Seven people were displaced Tuesday afternoon after a one-alarm fire damaged a suburban home in East San Jose, according to fire officials.

Firefighters answered a call about a reported house fire at 1:14 p.m. Tuesday on Blue Creek Court, a cul-de-sac that intersects with Aborn Road, San Jose fire Capt. Cleo Doss said.

The fire started on the exterior of the single-family home and then spread to the attic, Doss said.

Fire crews cut power lines to the home and punched holes in the roof to ventilate the burning structure, firefighters said.

The crews knocked the fire down at 1:34 p.m. and had it under control by 1:41 p.m., according to Doss.

No one was injured but the home was rendered uninhabitable. The American Red Cross was contacted to find housing for six adults and one child who were displaced by the blaze, Doss said.

The cause of the fire is not yet known and is under investigation, he said.

Civil rights attorney John Burris announced in San Francisco Tuesday that he has asked a special unit of the U.S. Department of Justice to look into the fatal shootings of four Hispanic men by Salinas police since March.

"Something is going on in that Police Department that has raised real questions," Burris said at a news conference outside the Federal Building in San Francisco, where he was accompanied by relatives and supporters of the four men.

"We want to find out whether these shootings were a pattern of discriminatory law enforcement or four isolated incidents," the Oakland-based attorney said.

"What we want is that the unjustified shootings stop. The community needs reassurance that there is not discriminatory law enforcement and that it is not open season on Latinos," Burris said.

Burris said he sent his request Monday to Jonathan Smith, chief of the Special Litigation Section of the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division.

The unit is one of 11 sections of the department's Civil Rights Division. It does not conduct criminal prosecutions, but specializes in protecting civil rights in certain areas including citizens' interactions with police. The section is skilled in looking for patterns of civil rights violations, Burris said.

Burris said that if the section takes up his request and finds that deadly force is being used in a discriminatory way, it could monitor the Police Department, set up an independent monitor or authorize revisions in the department's practices.

The Justice Department had no immediate comment on its response to Burris's letter.

If undertaken, a Special Litigation Section probe would be one of several ongoing investigations and initiatives related to the shootings.

Monterey County District Attorney Dean Flippo said on July 10 that his office, at the request of Salinas police Chief Kelly McMillin, has directly taken over the investigation of the fatal shooting of Frank Alvarado, 40, that day.

The other fatal police shootings, which occurred on March 20, May 9 and May 20, are being investigated by the Police Department. In all four cases, the district attorney will decide if any officers should be prosecuted.

An 84-year-old Pacifica man pleaded not guilty Monday in a Redwood City courtroom to attempting to kill his wife with a knife, prosecutors said Tuesday.

Tony Gocksue Lee allegedly stabbed his wife of 54 years seven times in the neck, abdomen, thigh and hand in their home in the 400 block of Griffin Avenue in Pacifica on July 13, according to the San Mateo County District Attorney's Office.

Lee then allegedly told a family member who called as she was on her way to bring the couple dinner that he had killed his 72-year-old wife for "bugging" him and not loving him anymore, prosecutors said.

When police arrived, the victim was bleeding on the dining room floor and Lee again said that he had killed her, according to the district attorney's office.

The victim was transported to a hospital for treatment and survived the attack.

Lee is being held in custody without bail, prosecutors said.

Santa Clara-based Levi's Stadium will host a soccer match pitting Mexico against Chile in September, the San Francisco 49ers announced Tuesday.

The 49ers, set to debut Levi's Stadium as the team's new home on Aug. 17, partnered with the Santa Clara Stadium Authority and the San Jose Earthquakes professional soccer team to bring the Sept. 6 Mexico-Chile match to the stadium, according to 49ers spokesman Roger Hacker.

The match between the Mexican and Chilean national teams will be the first of two games Mexico is to play in the U.S. The other takes place on Sept. 9 against Bolivia in Denver, according to the 49ers.

Mexico and Chile played in the recent FIFA World Cup, each advancing to the Round of 16 before being eliminated, Hacker said.

Last year, Mexico met Peru's national team at Candlestick Park in San Francisco, with the match ending in a 0-0 draw.

The stadium authority owns the $1.3 billion stadium, which has 68,500 seats. The 49ers are moving there after playing their final game at Candlestick last Dec. 23.

The 49ers' Aug. 17 game at Levi's Stadium will be a preseason contest against the Denver Broncos.

On Saturday, the stadium's inaugural sports game will be a soccer match with the Earthquakes against the Seattle Sounders FC.
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