Bay Area News Briefs
By Mike Aldax
February 7, 2008
Oakland City Council joins Cosco Busan lawsuit
The Oakland City Council on Tuesday agreed to join a lawsuit
filed by the city of San Francisco against the owners and operators
of the Cosco Busan container ship that spilled more than 50,000
gallons of oil into San Francisco Bay on Nov. 7, according to
Oakland city spokeswoman Karen Boyd.
San Francisco's lawsuit, filed in that city's superior court,
seeks potentially millions of dollars in damages due to the leak
of heavy bunker fuel into San Francisco Bay. Oakland is only requesting
$26,000 in damages for that city's part in responding to and investigating
the incident, according to a report from City Attorney John Russo
to the City Council.
The spill occurred when the 65,131-ton, 900-foot-long container
ship hit a protective fender of a tower of the Bay Bridge as it
sailed out of the Port of Oakland, bound for South Korea.
San Francisco's suit names as defendants the ship's owner, Regal
Stone Ltd. of Hong Kong, the company that leased it, Hanjin Shipping
Co. Ltd. of South Korea, and ship operators Fleet Management Ltd.
and Synergy Maritime Ltd.
Also named in the suit was pilot John Cota, 59, of Petaluma,
who was piloting the ship when it hit the bridge fender.
In related litigation, fishermen and fishing boat owners have
filed suits in San Francisco Superior Court and federal court
for damage to their livelihood and the U.S. government has filed
suit in federal court over harm to navigable waters and federal
beaches and marine sanctuaries.
SF Zoo safety enhancements almost complete
Work is mostly done on safety enhancements to the San Francisco
Zoo's big cat exhibit, which has been closed since the Christmas
Day escape of a tiger that killed a boy and mauled his two friends
before police shot it dead.
Workers raised the concrete moat wall surrounding four lion and
tiger grottos about 4 feet, which meets the minimum Association
of Zoos and Aquariums guideline of 16 feet and 4 inches, authorities
The zoo installed glazing and fencing on top of the wall to extend
the barrier height to 19 feet. It also added an electric shock-emitting
wire and new glass barriers to ensure the cats can't escape.
Further renovations, scheduled for completion in March, will
include replacing temporary fencing with stainless steel wire
mesh and the installation of an electrified wire along the finger
walls of the grotto, the zoo said.
While the work continues, staff is considering when to reopen
the exhibit to the public.
The process of reintroducing the big cats to the outdoor portion
of their exhibit will be slow and gradual, said Manuel Mollinedo,
the zoo's president and executive director.
"The lions need to adjust to the upgrades to their exhibits
and the surrounding areas," he said.
The San Francisco Recreation and Park Department is overseeing
the renovations, C+A Architects designed them and Yerba Buena
Engineering and Construction Inc. is carrying out the construction.
Children's Hospital bond measures rejected
The future of Children's Hospital Oakland is unclear after Alameda
County voters overwhelmingly rejected two ballot measures that
would have helped pay for a major expansion project at the facility.
The two measures needed two-thirds majorities to succeed.
With 100 percent of precincts reporting, Measure A, which was
the more heavily-promoted measure, lost by a decisive margin of
59.4 percent "no" votes to only 40.6 percent "yes"
Measure B, which was drawn up first but wasn't promoted after
Measure A was drafted to address concerns expressed by the Alameda
County Board of Supervisors, fared even worse, losing by a margin
of 69 percent to 31 percent.
The parcel taxes would have imposed a $24-per-year parcel tax
on homeowners in Alameda County to raise $300 million toward the
hospital's $700 million expansion plan.
Big businesses would have paid $250 annually and small businesses
would have paid $100. Low-income families and senior citizens
would have been exempt.
The expansion plan would have increased the hospital's capacity
from 171 on-site beds to about 250 private patient rooms and enabled
the hospital to meet a 2013 retrofit deadline for hospitals in
Children's Hospital officials couldn't be reached for comment
Rumors circulated last year that the hospital might leave Oakland,
but at a news conference last Sept. 5, board chairman Harold Davis
said it planned to stay in the city.
San Pablo Avenue closed following shooting
A man sitting at a red light at a Richmond intersection was shot
multiple times Wednesday at close range, Richmond police Lt. Mark
The victim was in a Cadillac at the intersection of San Pablo
and Macdonald avenues at about 4 p.m. when a full-sized vehicle
One of the two males in the second vehicle got out, walked over
to the victim and fired several rounds from a handgun at point
blank range, striking the victim multiple times, Gagan said.
After being shot, the driver accelerated into the intersection,
striking another vehicle, Gagan said.
The two vehicles crashed at the southeast corner of San Pablo
Avenue, Gagan said.
The victim was in critical condition when he was airlifted to
a local trauma center.
San Pablo Avenue, a major commute artery, is shut down and rush-hour
traffic is mounting behind the closure, Gagan said.
Fulton pleads guilty to tax evasion
Former Benicia Unified School District Board member and former
Benicia City Council member Dirk Fulton has pleaded guilty to
failing to pay taxes in 1999.
Fulton pleaded guilty to the tax evasion charge Friday in U.S.
District Court in Sacramento. He will return to court April 11
when U.S. District Judge Edward J. Garcia will accept or reject
the plea or defer a decision until a pre-sentence report is completed.
Under the plea agreement, Fulton faces five months in prison
and five months home confinement and will pay $115,000 restitution
to the Internal Revenue Service and a $28,000 fine.
Lauren Horwood, a spokeswoman with the U.S. Attorney's Office,
said Fulton paid only $2,364 in federal income tax in 1999. Prosecutors
said he didn't report transfers from his businesses to his personal
use, including money to construct his Benicia home. Court papers
indicate the IRS was underpaid between $70,000 and $120,000.
Fulton agreed to the plea deal Dec. 14 and resigned from the
Benicia school board Dec. 26, stating he wanted more time with
The maximum penalty on the tax evasion charge is five years in
prison and a $250,000 fine.
Man shot in Northeast San Jose
A male victim was shot and injured Wednesday in Northeast San
Jose, just north from where a young man was killed by gunfire
Tuesday, police said.
Gunfire was reported at about 8:40 p.m. in the area of Baton
Rouge Drive and N. Capitol Avenue. A victim of unknown age was
found with a non-life threatening gunshot wound and rushed to
a local hospital, police said.
No other information was immediately available.
On Tuesday, about three miles south from Wednesday's shooting,
another male victim, described only as a "young man,"
was killed by gunfire in the 2700 block of Sussex Drive. He was
the city's third homicide in four days, police said.
The shooting was reported at around 7:15 p.m. The victim suffered
a bullet wound to the upper torso and was rushed to an area hospital,
where he died.
The city's first two homicides of 2008 occurred Saturday.
A man was fatally stabbed in a San Jose residence in the 100
block of Ayer Avenue, spokesman Enrique Garcia said. Police found
him dead at about 5:15 p.m.
Then, at 11:50 p.m., 17-year-old Rogelio "Roy'' Silva was
reported shot near the intersection of Capitol Expressway and
Tully Road. Silva was later pronounced dead at a local hospital.
No arrests have been made in these crimes. Police are investigating.
Bell second trial begins
Jurors are to scheduled to begin deliberating Wednesday at the
second trial of a Fairfield man charged with second-degree murder,
vehicular manslaughter and assault with a deadly weapon after
his car crashed into a group of people in front of a Vacaville
elementary school in 2005.
David Michael Bell's trial is before Judge Ramona Garrett in
Solano County Superior Court. His first trial ended with a hung
jury in February 2007.
Bell, 26, is charged with the second-degree murder and vehicular
manslaughter of Paden Elementary School students Ana Cardenas,
9, and her brother Luis, 7, on Oct. 19, 2005. Ten other people
Defense attorney Daniel Russo argued during both trials his client
lost control of his Ford Taurus when he suffered a seizure, a
condition that had not been diagnosed before the accident. Russo
claims Bell also suffers from other disabilities.
Prosecutor John Kealy has contended Bell drove fast past the
school because he was angry and frustrated about traffic in the
Vacaville police said at the time of the accident that Bell's
Ford Taurus drove at a high rate of speed on the right shoulder
of Davis Street to pass slow traffic.
The Taurus struck a parked Chevrolet Camaro, pushing it 100 feet
north on Davis Street, then continued on the sidewalk near the
school. Bell's car and the Camaro struck the victims on the sidewalk
and the Taurus stopped after it collided with a tree in a front
yard, police said.
Fairfield woman pleads guilty to defrauding FEMA
A Fairfield woman has pleaded guilty to making false claims for
money intended for Hurricane Katrina disaster victims.
Sharon N. Dailey, 37, succeeded in obtaining $4,358 for housing
financial assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency,
United States Attorney McGregor W. Scott said. Dailey pleaded
guilty Monday before United States District Court Judge Frank
C. Damrell Jr.
Dailey was a permanent resident of California when she made the
false claims for assistance and fraudulently used another person's
credit application to purchase a vehicle, the U.S. Attorney's
Dailey faces a maximum 45-year prison sentence, a $250,000 fine
and a three-year term of federal supervised release when she is
sentenced in U.S. District Court in Sacramento April 18. The actual
sentence will be determined at the discretion of the court after
consideration of federal sentencing guidelines, the U.S. Attorney's
Discovery Bay men arrested in marijuana bust
Two men were arrested and more than $250,000 of marijuana seized
Wednesday morning when authorities raided four Discovery Bay homes,
a Contra Costa County Sheriff's Department spokesman said.
Sheriff's deputies executed search warrants at homes in the 1700
block of Cherry Hills Drive, the 1200 block of Beach Court, the
1200 block of Discovery Bay Boulevard and 2400 block of Bixler
Road, sheriff's spokesman Jimmy Lee said.
John Parker, 40, of Discovery Bay, was arrested at the Beach
Court home on charges of cultivating marijuana and tampering with
electrical lines, Lee said.
Stephen Hernandez, 29, of Discovery Bay, was arrested at the
Cherry Hills Drive home on charges of cultivating marijuana, operating
a clandestine lab and tampering with electrical lines.
Deputies suspect the other homes had hosted marijuana operations,
but it appeared as though the suspects had packed up and left,
according to Lee.
A total of between $250,000 and $300,000 of marijuana was seized
during the raids, Lee said.
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