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Bay Area News Briefs

By Mike Aldax

February 5, 2008

BarackStars discovered in YouthVote 2008

San Francisco high school students appear to favor U.S. Sen. Barack Obama slightly more than U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton in the race for president, according to results from a recent mock election released Monday.

About 7,000 students participated in the election, dubbed YouthVote 2008.

According to the San Francisco Youth Commission, more than 43 percent of students voted for Obama, D-Ill., while Clinton, D-N.Y., received just over 37 percent of the students' votes.

Republican presidential candidate U.S. Sen. John McCain, of Arizona, was endorsed by only about 5 percent of the students, according to the Youth Commission.

The California primary takes place today.

The students also voice their opinions about local Proposition A, a bond measure that would authorize the city to borrow $185 million for construction, rebuilding and improvements to park and recreation facilities.

The Youth Commission reported nearly 78 percent of students favored the measure.

YouthVote is organized by a coalition of education and voter advocacy groups including the Youth Commission, the San Francisco Board of
Education and the school district's Student Advisory Council.

Newsom and Clinton appear in Hallmark Channel town hall

Former President Bill Clinton appeared in San Francisco with Mayor Gavin Newsom at one of several locations for presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton's national "town hall" event Monday night.

The "Voices Across America" event was broadcast online at 6 p.m. Pacific Standard Time, airing from 22 locations throughout the country, including New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco's Ferry Building.

Clinton, the U.S. senator from New York, spoke in San Francisco and San Jose on Friday, part of her campaign to shore up support for today's hotly contested primary against rival U.S. Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill.

Obama, who trailed Clinton by double digits in California in several polls over the past several weeks, appears to have made gains among some California voters. Multiple polls taken in just the past few days show the race nearly even.

Earlier Monday, San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris and Supervisor Bevan Dufty were scheduled to attend a Get Out the Vote phone bank and outreach event in San Francisco in support of Obama.

In addition to a live online stream at http://www.hillaryclinton.com, the national town hall was broadcast live on the Hallmark Channel, according to the Clinton campaign.

Bayview teenager killed

A 17-year-old boy was shot dead in San Francisco's Bayview District on Monday morning, police said.

Gunfire was reported at around 11 a.m. in the area of Kirkwood Avenue and Newhall Street, according to San Francisco police.

The victim, a Hispanic teen, was brought to San Francisco General Hospital where he was pronounced dead, police said.

The suspect remains at large and an investigation is ongoing, police said.

CHP reports 20 DUIs over Super Bowl Weekend

The California Highway Patrol in the Santa Rosa area made 20 alcohol-related DUI arrests over Super Bowl weekend, including six after the game itself.

CHP Officer Barbara Upham said one of the six arrests came during a non-injury traffic collision. The rest were during traffic stops, Upham said.

The CHP said the American Automobile Association has estimated a first time DUI arrest costs offenders between $8,000 and $10,000. The CHP advised motorists to avoid the costly offense by designating a sober driver.

Missing Lake Tahoe skiers found

Two Bay Area skiers who went missing Saturday in the Lake Tahoe area survived on Power Bars and melted snow, huddling for warmth at night in snow caves before their rescue Monday morning, authorities reported.

Patrick Frost, 34, and Christopher Gerwig, 32, both of San Francisco, who were last seen at the Alpine Meadows Ski Area lodge at about 11:30 a.m. Saturday, were found by a Placer County Sheriff's Department helicopter at 10:29 a.m. near Hell Hole Reservoir, according to sheriff's department Communications Supervisor Kelly Hernandez.

They were then flown to a hospital in Auburn, where they were treated for minor frostbite on their toes, and then released and reunited with family, the sheriff's department reported.

"I cannot tell you how thrilled I am for those two skiers and their families," said Alpine Meadows Ski Resort spokeswoman Rachael Woods.

The men were spotted from the air Monday morning walking near the entrance to the upper Hell Hole Reservoir, about seven miles from the Alpine Meadows resort's boundary.

Sheriff's department investigators had believed that the men, reportedly expert skiers, had on Saturday inquired with other ski lodge patrons about backcountry skiing in the area. They were reported missing later in the day.

The sheriff's department reported Monday that the men told their rescuers they had unintentionally skied outside the boundaries of the Alpine Meadows resort when they became lost in whiteout conditions.

Treatment plant manager prepares report for sewage release

The treatment plant manager of the Sewerage Agency of Southern Marin said Monday afternoon he is preparing a report about the circumstances that led to the release of 2.7 million gallons of partially treated sewage and storm water into Richardson Bay Thursday night.

Steven Danehy reiterated the sequence of events that led to the spill he attributed to "operational judgment" by a staff member.

Danehy said four pumps at the plant at 450 Sycamore Ave. should have been operating instead of two Thursday, causing partially treated sewage and storm water to backup and overflow into a storm drain in the parking lot and spill into Corte Madera Creek leading to Richardson Bay around 4:30 p.m.

A private alarm service company that was to call an on-call plant operator left a message instead when the operator didn't answer, Danehy said. An operator checking on the plant on his home computer spotted the problem at 8 p.m. and corrected it at the plant by 8:30 p.m., Danehy said.

"We started notification to Fish and Game and OES at 9:45 or 10 p.m.," Danehy said.

He said the problem at the plant was posted on his agency's Web site and emergency notification also was made to the state and county authorities.

"We were back to normal Thursday evening," Danehy said. The plant was cleaned and drained Friday, he said.

"It is an embarrassment. We're going to take another hard look at all out procedures," Danehy said.

Lila Tang, manager of wastewater permits with the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board, said the sewerage agency has five business days to complete its report of the incident.

"We'll do an investigation to verify the cause and get the results from the discharge samples. Our process is long," Tang said Monday afternoon.

Testing of water samples taken from the bay Saturday indicated reduced levels from Friday of bacterial contamination at all testing sites,
The Marin County Public Health Department said Sunday. All the samples are within the state fecal coliform standard for water contact recreation but several locations exceeded the standard for enterococcus bacteria, the department said.

The highest levels of total coliform and E coli were found Friday and Saturday at Bay Front Office Park.

Investigators searching for evidence in East Napa fire

Fire investigators Monday morning are still searching for evidence of a functioning smoke alarm in a burned out single-family home in East Napa where four people died in a morning fire.

Napa fire dispatch received reports of the fire in the 1400 block of Vale Avenue at 4:51 a.m. and arrived on scene at 4:57 a.m., according to Napa fire Capt. Jim Pope.

About 25 firefighters knocked down the two-alarm blaze within minutes, and after a simultaneous search, found the four victims in a bedroom. The fire appears to have ignited in the small home's living room, Pope said.

"Four victims is very unusual," Pope said. A fire killed three people in Napa in 2002, but Pope said, "We don't see a lot of multiple fatal fire victim fires."

Three of Monday's fire victims were pronounced dead at the scene and the fourth was taken to Queen of the Valley Hospital, where the victim was pronounced dead. Pope said officials believe the four victims were family members, but that information has not been confirmed.

Oakland police investigating weekend shootings

Oakland police Monday are continuing to investigate four separate shootings that were reported between Friday afternoon and Sunday evening and left five people dead and four others injured.

The latest shooting occurred Sunday night at about 11:15 p.m., claiming the lives of two women and injuring two men. Officers were initially dispatched to the 6500 block of Outlook Avenue on reports of a traffic collision, Officer Roland Holmgren said. Arriving officers found a van that had collided with parked vehicles. Inside the van, police located two females and a male, all of whom were suffering from gunshot wounds, according to Holmgren.

One female victim was pronounced dead at the scene and the second female victim died later at Highland Hospital, Holmgren said. The male victim was also taken to Highland Hospital where he remains in critical condition.

Holmgren said police located a second male shooting victim in the 1400 block of Havenscourt Boulevard, where police believe the incident began. The victim was transported to Highland Hospital and is stable condition.

At 8:53 p.m. Saturday, officers were called to a residence in the 9800 block of A Street. Officers located three shooting victims at the residence, Holmgren said.

Isabel Flores, 22, of Oakland, was pronounced dead at the scene, according to Holmgren. Two other unidentified victims were taken to an area hospital and are in stable condition.

Holmgren said there was a party going on in the residence at the time of the shooting and that at least one gunman fired into the home.

Earlier Saturday, at 12:52 a.m., officers were dispatched to the 3300 block of 64th Avenue Place on reports of a shooting. Oakland resident Terrance Brown, 40, was found suffering from several gunshot wounds, according to Holmgren.

Emergency personnel responded to the scene and transported Brown to Highland Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Reports of a shooting Friday afternoon brought police to the 800 block of 41st Street at about 2:30 p.m., according to Holmgren. A female shooting victim was located in a vehicle and pronounced dead at the scene.

"This weekend's senseless act of violence are a direct reflection of a social epidemic, where some people view the value of life as being worthless,'' Holmgren said.

Alameda County votes on Children's Hospital bond measures

Alameda County voters today will decide the fate of two bond measures aimed at raising $300 million to help pay for a new Children's Hospital near the facility's current site.

In addition, Oakland voters will decide whether to extend and make permanent a parcel tax that provides $20 million in supplemental funding for the city's schools every year and Albany voters will decide the fate of a $10 million bond measure to rebuild the school district's community pool and make other improvements.

Mary Dean, Children's senior vice president and chief strategic development officer, said Monday that the private, non-profit organization needs to raise a total of more than $700 million so it can build a new facility so it meets state seismic safety standards by the year 2013.

Measure A, which needs two-thirds approval, would raise $300 million of that sum by imposing a parcel tax for the next 35 years.

Homeowners would pay $24 a year, big businesses would pay $250 and small businesses would pay $100. Low-income families and senior citizens would be exempt.

Alameda County Supervisor Keith Carson said he supports Measure A even though he thinks Children's officials have done a poor job of communicating with local officials and the community about their plans.

Carson said he and other members of the Board of Supervisors "were completely blindsided" when Children's officials announced campaign to gather signatures for the measure last year even though they did "absolutely no outreach" with the community.

But Carson said board members "held our nose" and put Measure A on the ballot because Children's "has performed an incredible health care delivery service in the community" for children and it's important to keep the hospital in Oakland, as there have been rumors that it might move away from Oakland.

Richmond man arrested on suspicion of murder

Police arrested a 50-year-old Richmond man Friday on suspicion of murdering his estranged wife last week and leaving her body on the front porch of her Richmond home, Detective Eric Haupt said.

Antonia Vargas, 48, was found dead on her front porch in the 2400 block of Andrade Avenue at about 6:25 a.m. Wednesday when a coworker arrived to pick her up to carpool to work in Berkeley, Richmond police Lt. Mark Gagan said.

Police have said she was killed with an unknown edged weapon. Investigators have not pinpointed an exact time of death, but evidence at the scene suggested that she was killed several hours before her body was found, Gagan said.

Exactly where she was killed was also not immediately clear. When detectives arrived, they found the house securely locked and the body on the porch, but after further investigation, Haupt said, "There's a possibility she was killed inside and brought outside."

The victim's estranged husband Valentin Vargas was arrested Friday at a wholesale auto business in San Leandro where he worked as a mechanic and security guard, Haupt said.

The couple had been separated for about eight years, but were not legally divorced. They had three children, two adult daughters and a son who was killed about two years ago, Haupt said.

Valentin Vargas became a suspect after family members told detectives that the couple had had a violent relationship.

Solano County stabbing victim identified

The Solano County coroner's office has identified 47-year-old Roger Wayne Graham, of Vacaville, as the man who was fatally stabbed outside an apartment complex Sunday night.

Police arrested 34-year-old Jason Edward Greenwald in connection with the murder. He will be arraigned this afternoon in Solano County Superior Court in Fairfield.

Police responded to a 911 call at about 7:30 p.m. reporting a stabbing outside of an apartment in the 200 block of Bennett Hill Drive.

Arriving officers found Graham, reportedly a transient, suffering from a stab wound to the torso, police reported. He was transported to VacaValley Hospital, where he died at about 8:30 p.m., police said. His autopsy is scheduled for today.

Greenwald reportedly lived in the apartment complex and Graham was a frequent visitor there.

Police said Greenwald was leaving his apartment when he allegedly encountered Graham at the bottom of the stairs and stabbed him.


Copyright © 2008 by Bay City News, Inc. -- Republication, Rebroadcast or any other Reuse without the express written consent of Bay City News, Inc. is prohibited.




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