Morning Splash: BART Closes Stations, Allows Cell Phone Service on Protest; SF Mayor Race; Harassed Transgender Woman Settles w/ DMV
- Cell service stays on during BART protest in SF (SF Chronicle)
The busy evening commute out of downtown San Francisco gave way Monday to a chaotic cat-and-mouse game between police officers and roving protesters who lashed out at the transit agency for temporarily shutting down underground cellular phone service last week. BART closed all four downtown San Francisco stations – Civic Center, Powell, Montgomery and Embarcadero – soon after the protest began at 5 p.m. Officers in riot gear blocked entrances as many train riders fumed on the sidewalks and tried to figure out how to get home. All stations were reopened by 7:30 p.m. Muni Metro stations at the same locations were closed in tandem with the BART stations.
- U.S. Attorney probes ‘Run, Ed, Run’ group (SF Chronicle)
Call it what you will – inquiry, preliminary investigation or full-blown inquest – but the U.S. attorney’s office has begun gathering information about Progress for All, the now-disbanded group behind the “Run, Ed, Run” campaign to draft interim Mayor Ed Lee into running for a full term, a source told City Insider. The group has been the subject of complaints by both local Democratic Party Chairman Aaron Peskin and retired Superior Court Judge Quentin Kopp, who have asked for investigations into its conduct.
- Powerful San Francisco union gives two endorsements for mayor (SF Examiner)
The highly anticipated endorsements of San Francisco’s largest union are out, and like others, SEIU 1021 appears torn when it comes to endorsing a new mayor among a crowded field. “The delegates were in support of both Supervisor John Avalos and State Senator Leland Yee, both progressives with strong labor credentials and records, both having been in SEIU at one time, and both friends,” the union sent out in a press release. The “dual endorsement” came as the union figured that neither Yee nor Avalos could win without sharing from the same pool of progressive voters. The third place slot went to Bevan Dufty.
- PG&E still missing key documents about San Bruno (SF Chronicle)
Pacific Gas and Electric Co. can’t find key construction documents about the stretch of natural-gas pipeline that exploded last year in San Bruno and has long relied on faulty or nonexistent data to vouch for the safety of much of the rest of the Milpitas-to-San Francisco line, according to federal findings released Monday. National Transportation Safety Board investigators probing the cause of the Sept. 9 blast have long been hampered by a lack of information about the cobbled-together section of substandard pipe pieces where the explosion occurred at a flawed weld, killing eight people and destroying 38 homes.
- Oakland school’s top cop on paid leave while district investigates use of racial slur (Oakland Tribune)
Oakland schools Police Chief Pete Sarna has been placed on administrative leave following a complaint that he used a racial slur during a nonschool sponsored charity event last month. Oakland Unified School District spokesman Troy Flint confirmed that Sarna, who has been the schools chief for slightly more than two years, is on leave pending the results of an investigation into the incident. Sources said the slur was allegedly uttered during a golf tournament at Sequoyah Country Club in Oakland that was attended by current and former law enforcement officers and civilians from multiple police departments.
- Former Contra Costa County drug task force officers indicted (Contra Costa Times)
FBI agents on Monday arrested a former Contra Costa County drug task force commander and a former Concord private investigator on a 17-count federal grand jury indictment that could put the two in prison for life and cost them more than $40 million in fines. The two 50-year-old Contra Costans, Norman Wielsch and Christopher Butler, were charged with drug conspiracy, distribution of methamphetamine and marijuana, theft, extortion and civil rights violations. They are being held without bail in a federal jail pending separate detention hearings scheduled for Thursday and Aug. 22.
- California’s redistricting maps draw an immediate challenge (Sacramento Bee)
Legislative and congressional boundaries drawn by a citizens commission for the first time in California history were challenged Monday just hours after their approval. Officials of the California Republican Party and the Senate Republican Caucus said they will support a signature-gathering drive aimed at overturning newly drawn Senate districts before they take effect.
- California student test scores rise (SF Chronicle)
For nine straight years, standardized test scores have gone up across the state, with 54 percent of the 4.7 million test takers showing grade-level proficiency in English and 50 percent earning a proficient rating in math, according to the most recent round of results released Monday. It was the first time that at least half of California’s elementary and high school students reached proficiency in each subject.
- Penalties for drivers using a handheld phone or texting likely to rise in California (San Jose Mercury News)
The California Legislature on Monday passed a bill that would raise the current fine plus penalties to $309 from $189. The bill now goes before Gov. Jerry Brown. A spokesman said Brown had no immediate comment on the bill, but supporters believe he will sign it into law. Senate Bill 28, authored by Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto, also would make a second offense a moving violation that would go on a driver’s record. That would potentially add up to $100 a year or more to violators’ insurance premiums unless they went to traffic school. The bill also would make it illegal for bicyclists to use a handheld phone.
- Lake Tahoe clarity dips, leaders summit (SF Chronicle)
The decades-long effort to restore the clarity of Lake Tahoe stands at a critical juncture as leaders from California and Nevada meet today on the shores of the treasured lake to discuss its future. Not only will the clear blue water be in the background of the annual political summit, but so will a new Nevada state law that threatens to dismantle the cooperative effort between the two states to control development in the Tahoe basin. Meanwhile, federal funding that has been crucial to the work is imperiled in the new cost-cutting era in Washington, D.C.
- Transgender woman settles DMV suit (SF Chronicle)
A transgender woman who went to the Department of Motor Vehicles in San Francisco to record her sex change – and then got a letter from a DMV clerk saying homosexual acts were “an abomination that leads to hell” – will receive a $55,000 legal settlement, her lawyers said Monday. Attorneys said Amber Yust’s settlement includes $40,000 from the state and $15,000 from Thomas Demartini, who was suspended with pay by the DMV shortly after the incident and quit his job in December.
- Police allow children to handle guns at Santa Rosa festival (Santa Rosa Press Democrat)
Young children attending a festival in Santa Rosa’s South Park neighborhood Saturday were allowed to handle weapons used by the city’s SWAT team, causing some to question the appropriateness of such a display at a family event promoting safe communities. Photos taken at the event show a Santa Rosa police officer talking with a group of youths as a young boy holds a fully-automatic assault rifle while looking through its sniper scope. Another shows a boy perhaps as young as 5 years old grabbing the grip of a riot gun on a table covered with gear beside the city’s SWAT command vehicle.
- ‘Rise of the Planet of the Apes’ helps boost visitor numbers at Muir Woods (Marin Independent Journal)
The number of visitors to Muir Woods National Monument is on the upswing, in part due to a new movie that shows apes swinging from the park’s majestic redwoods. But even before the release of “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” early this month — which has prompted an influx of curious tourists — park officials were charting a jump in visitation.