Bay Area News Briefs
By Maya Strausberg
February 13, 2008
Berkeley City Council refuses to apologize for calling Marines
An unrepentant Berkeley City Council refused at a marathon meeting
that ended after 1 a.m. today to apologize for a vote two weeks
ago that said members of a U.S. Marine Corps recruiting office
downtown are "uninvited and unwelcome intruders."
Instead, the council voted 7-2 to approve what it said is "more
clear language" indicating that it recognizes the recruiter's
right to locate in "our city" and to emphasize that
"we deeply respect and support the men and women in our armed
The council majority also said it wants to "publicly differentiate
between the city's documented opposition to the unjust and illegal
war in Iraq and our respect and support for those serving in the
At a public hearing that began about 9:45 p.m. Tuesday and didn't
end until the council finished voting at 1:07 a.m. today, a large
group of veterans and military supporters told the council should
apologize for its Jan. 29 vote against the Marines recruiting
office, which has been located at 64 Shattuck Ave. for about 13
They said the language in the council's action was insulting
and demeaning to the Marines and others in the military.
But an equally large group of anti-war protesters from Code Pink
and other organizations said they supported the council's vote
against the recruiting office and urged council members not to
After the council finished voting today, Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates
said there was no reason for the council to apologize.
"What would we apologize for?" he asked.
Referring to the Marines, Bates said, "They were uninvited
SF Board of Supervisors postpones pot club resolution
A San Francisco Board of Supervisors resolution condemning federal
authorities for sending landlords who lease space to pot clubs
letters notifying them of the possibility of imprisonment and
seizure of their property was postponed Tuesday after one supervisor
The resolution calls the letters -- issued in December by the
U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to about 50 Northern California
landlords, some in San Francisco -- "misguided and sensationally
Supervisor Sean Elsbernd, who represents neighborhoods in southwest
San Francisco, said he wanted the opportunity to go on record
against the resolution and asked that a vote on it be deferred.
The resolution was part of a group of resolutions that would have
passed or failed as a group, by unanimous vote and without specific
According to Elsbernd, a few medical marijuana clubs in his district,
along Ocean Avenue, "have caused an inordinate amount of
neighborhood concern and I don't want to be on record as supporting
Supervisors will now vote on the resolution individually at their
Feb. 26 meeting, when Elsbernd will register his "no"
vote. Elsbernd acknowledged the resolution would likely pass.
The resolution was authored by Supervisor Chris Daly and co-sponsored
by supervisors Jake McGoldrick and Ross Mirkarimi.
According to DEA spokeswoman Casey McEnry, "the letters
were sent out basically as a courtesy," informing landlords
the cannabis clubs were operating on their property, constituting
a violation of federal law, the penalty for which includes seizure
of assets, including property, and up to 20 years in prison, she
In the past, said McEnry, the DEA would notify landlords after
raids on marijuana dispensaries.
"This is a different approach," she said. "We're
hoping that people comply with federal law," she added.
The resolution, which reaffirms San Francisco as "a sanctuary
for medical cannabis," states that the DEA "has repeatedly
subverted and undermined California's, and many other states',
laws governing medical cannabis."
It also accuses the DEA of "increasingly acting on its irrational
policy and hysteria regarding medical cannabis specifically, and
the so-called War on Drugs in general."
According to the resolution, medical marijuana dispensaries are
a health and safety issue that should be governed by the state
The resolution pledges to support "lawfully operating"
cannabis dispensaries and property owners who lease to them. Those
facing federal prosecution would receive the support of the city
attorney, according to the resolution.
The resolution also calls on the U.S. Congress to investigate
the conduct of the DEA and to revise federal law to authorize
states to legalize medical marijuana.
Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board member resigns after being
charged with voter fraud
Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board member Chris Kavanagh, who
faces six felony counts for allegedly misrepresenting where he
lives, has resigned from his post, his attorney said Tuesday.
In a letter sent to the Rent Stabilization Board on Monday, Kavanagh,
49, said he is resigning retroactive to Feb. 1.
Kavanagh had taken a three-month leave of absence from his post
in October, shortly after criminal charges were filed against
him, and he decided it would be better to resign rather than seek
another three-month leave, his attorney, James Giller, said Tuesday.
The criminal charges against Kavanagh are still pending and he's
due back in Alameda County Superior Court on Feb. 22 for a preliminary
hearing, Giller said.
However, Giller said he's been in discussions with prosecutor
Trevor White about a possible plea bargain in the case.
In September, Kavanagh was charged with three counts of voter
fraud, one count of perjury and one count of grand theft for accepting
a monthly stipend and health insurance benefits while serving
on the rent board.
In October, prosecutors added an additional count of voter fraud,
alleging Kavanagh cast a ballot in the June 6, 2006, Berkeley
election even though they believe he was actually living in Oakland.
All the counts stem from allegations his real home is in Oakland
even though he insisted that he's a Berkeley resident.
In his resignation letter, Kavanagh acknowledged he didn't "technically
comply" with Berkeley's residency requirements.
Kavanagh said he rented units both in Oakland and Berkeley and
that in part of 2006 and 2007 he had to "involuntarily vacate
my Berkeley unit" and therefore didn't meet the Berkeley
Kavanagh was first elected to the rent board in 2002 and was
re-elected to a second four-year term in November of 2006. His
term wouldn't expire until November 2010.
The Rent Stabilization Board is expected to appoint a replacement
to fill Kavanagh's seat through the November election, at which
time there will be five open slots on the board.
The fifth-highest vote-getter would complete the remainder of
EPA slams Marin County for deteriorating sewage pipes
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said Tuesday its inspections
of five of six sewage collection systems in Marin County led to
the discovery of significantly deteriorating sewage pipes that
are overwhelmed by rainwater during wet weather and affect operations
of the Sewerage Agency of Southern Marin's treatment plant and
its discharge into San Francisco Bay.
The federal EPA report comes as the California Environmental
Protection Agency investigates the release of more than 5 million
gallons of partially treated sewage and storm water into Richardson
Bay from the sewerage agency's Mill Valley treatment plant on
Jan. 25 and Jan. 31.
The San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board also
is investigating the spills and California EPA's Water Resources
Control Board is investigating the San Francisco regional water
board's failure to accurately report the Jan. 25 2.45-million-gallon
The U.S. EPA said its October 2007 inspections confirmed the
sewage collection systems at Almonte, Tamalpais, Homestead Valley
and Richardson Bay districts have deteriorating sewage pipes.
The clay pipes in the Tamalpais Community Services District,
for example, were installed in the 50s and 60s, according to the
report, and many of the documented sewage spills cite root intrusion
for the spills.
In a written statement, Alexis Strauss, the EPA's Water Division
director for the Pacific Southwest region said, "The public
may be surprised to learn we have many neglected sewage collection
systems which are small, under-funded and under-managed.
"These systems will continue to pose threats to San Francisco
Bay if communities fail to upgrade and maintain their systems'
sustainability," Strauss said.
On Friday, the water quality board ordered the Sewerage Agency
of Southern Marin to compile a full report on the recent spills
into Richardson Bay and an audit of its operations, due April
The federal EPA said the deteriorating pipes combined with extreme
peak flows from rainwater overwhelmed the Sewerage Agency of Southern
Marin's treatment plant causing flows to exceed capacity of emergency
holding basins at the plant on Jan. 25.
The EPA said the Jan. 31 spill occurred when the treatment plant
"failed to operate all of its discharge pumps designed to
achieve higher levels of treatment offsite."
The Sewerage Agency of Southern Marin treats wastewater from
approximately 28,000 people in the Mill Valley area. The sewer
pipes are owned and maintained by five separate sanitary districts
and the City of Mill Valley.
The U.S. EPA inspections in August and October documented six
sewage spills totaling 1,560 gallons at the Almonte Sanitary District
between 2005 and May 1, 2007.
The district has no equipment or staff to contain or mitigate
spills and like other districts, relies on Roto-Rooter to correct
problems as they arise, according to the inspection report.
There were three reported spills totaling 760 gallons at the
Alto Sanitary District between Sept. 30, 2005 and Nov. 10, 2006.
Root intrusion was blamed for the spills.
The Homestead Valley Sanitary District reported six sewage spills
totaling at least 1,245 gallons in 2006, according to the federal
EPA inspection report.
The Richardson Bay Sanitary District reported three spills larger
than 100 gallons in 2005, eight larger than 100 gallons in 2006
and 11 larger than 100 gallons in 2007, the federal EPA report
The Tamalpais Community Services District reported seven sewage
spills in 2005, eight in 2006 and eight through May 1, 2007. The
spills totaled nearly 11,000 gallons.
The Sewerage Agency of Southern Marin reported three spills totaling
7,800 gallons at its plant during a large storm on Dec. 27, 2004,
the report states.
The federal EPA also cited some of the districts who failed to
maintain adequate records for reported and unreported spills.
Only "Post-It" notes were used before October, 2007
by the sewerage agency to document calls from the community and
other entities that were reporting spills and there were no additional
records or documentation of past spills available at the agency's
office, the EPA inspection report states.
Stephen Danehy, general manager of the Sewerage Agency of Southern
Marin, was not available for comment Tuesday afternoon. He has
called the two large spills last month "an embarrassment"
and said the agency is reviewing all its procedures.
Schwarzenegger issues proclamation for District 12 special
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger issued a proclamation Tuesday declaring
that a special election will be held June 3 to elect a congressional
representative to fill the seat left vacant after Congressman
Tom Lantos' death Monday.
June 3 is the statewide direct primary election.
Lantos died early Monday morning at the Bethesda Naval Medical
Center in Maryland due to complications from cancer.
The 80-year-old congressman, who was diagnosed with esophageal
cancer in late December, announced he would not seek re-election
to the U.S. House of Representatives on Jan. 2, but had committed
to serving the rest of his 14th term through December, spokeswoman
Lynne Weil said. Before his death Lantos had endorsed former state
Sen. Jackie Speier as the candidate for his congressional seat.
Lantos, D-San Mateo/San Francisco, was the only Holocaust survivor
to be elected to Congress and served as a senior member of the
House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. He was the
founding co-chairman of the 24-year-old Congressional Human Rights
Caucus, and was elected chairman of the House Committee on Foreign
Affairs in January 2007, according to Weil.
He leaves behind his wife, two daughters, 18 grandchildren and
A public memorial service will be held Thursday for Lantos at
Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., according
SFPD obtains warrants for murder suspects
The San Francisco Police Department is looking for two suspects
in connection with a 49-year-old man found dead in a van outside
his home earlier this month, officials announced Tuesday.
Leonard Hoskins was discovered in the Ingleside neighborhood
Feb. 1 after a relative reported him missing to Oakland police.
Homicide inspectors obtained a $5 million arrest warrant for
38-year-old Richard Carelli and a $1 million warrant for 38-year-old
Police determined the two suspects lived in an in-law unit at
Hoskins' home and fled the city Jan. 25. It is believed they are
traveling in a white 1996 Mercury Mystique with California license
According to police, Carelli and Pinkerton are also wanted on
child endangerment charges and are traveling with 6-year-old Viana
Carelli and Faith Carelli, an infant.
The two are considered dangerous and may be in Mexico, the Santa
Cruz area or Las Vegas, police said.
Oakland homicides rate reaches 21
An outbreak of fatal shootings in Oakland since Friday has brought
the city's homicide total to 21, eight more than were reported
last year at this time, police said Tuesday.
The most recent homicide occurred at about 8 p.m. Monday night
in the 900 block of 39th Avenue and claimed the life of 28-year-old
Aquaylis Chavis, according to police Sgt. Jim Rullamas. Initial
reports indicate Chavis was driving a vehicle when a suspect walking
nearby fired shots at him, police said.
At about 12:40 a.m. Monday, Romeo Mendez-Martin, was killed in
a shooting that occurred in the 2400 block of the Fruitvale Avenue,
Rullamas said. Police could not immediately confirm Mendez-Martin's
About a half hour earlier, at 12:10 a.m., Sedric Dennis, 42,
of Oakland, was fatally shot in the 1100 block of 62nd Street.
A late Sunday night shooting occurred in the 2200 block of 64th
Avenue and claimed the life of 51-year-old Dwane Walker of Oakland,
police said. The shooting was reported at about 11 p.m.
John Alfred Dennis Jr., an instructor at Saint Mary's College
in Moraga and City College of San Francisco, was found dead Saturday
night by San Mateo County sheriff's deputies at Montara State
Beach. Oakland police said evidence was discovered linking the
crime to a home at 8011 Hansom Drive.
Troy Thomas, 44, of Oakland, allegedly admitted to the killing
of Dennis and was arrested on suspicion of murder.
Also on Saturday, Juan Barnes, 34, and Alphonso Lawson, 38, were
killed in a shooting in the 9000 block of Hillside Street, according
to police. The shooting was reported at about 2 a.m.
At about 1:20 p.m. Friday, a fatal shooting occurred in the 500
block of 58th Street and claimed the life of 26-year-old Dwayne
Police are asking anyone with information regarding the any of
the shootings to call the Oakland Police Department Homicide Section
at (510) 238-3821.
Gilroy stabbing suspect turns himself in to police
A suspect in a Gilroy stabbing in January turned himself in to
police Tuesday and was charged with attempted murder.
Gilroy resident Joe Manuel Salcido, 28, was booked into Santa
Clara County Jail after self-surrendering around 4:30 p.m.
Police were searching for Salcido after officers responded to
the 400 block of Taft Court on Jan. 24 on a report of a stabbing.
Salcido allegedly entered the home and confronted the victim before
stabbing him and fleeing.
The victim survived his wounds and his identity is being withheld
while the case is being investigated.
CHP indentifies accident victim
The California Highway Patrol has identified 58-year-old Alfredo
Alcaraz of Glen Ellen as the driver who died Tuesday morning when
a 2003 Toyota Avalon struck his 1998 Honda Civic head-on on state
Highway 12 in the Glen Ellen area of unincorporated Napa County
early Tuesday morning.
The Santa Rosa resident driving the Toyota, 63-year-old Allen
Gates, suffered major injuries and was taken to Santa Rosa Memorial
Hospital, CHP Officer Jaret Paulson said.
Gates was driving eastbound at approximately 55 mph on Highway
12 near Aurora Lane around 5:57 a.m. when he made an unsafe pass
of an eastbound garbage truck, the CHP said.
Gates' Toyota then collided with Alcaraz' Honda in the westbound
lane, Paulson said. The impact pushed the Toyota into the path
of the garbage truck, Paulson said.
The driver of the garbage truck, 24-year-old Juan Garcia of Santa
Rosa was not injured, Paulson said.
Glen Ellen Fire Chief Bill Murray said the Honda spun into a
ditch. The accident happened in a legal passing area where there
have been at least four deaths in the past five or six years,
The crash closed Highway 12 between Arnold Drive and Madrone
Road until 9:45 a.m. Paulson said alcohol does not appear to be
a factor in the crash.
San Mateo Board of Supervisors passes tax measure to raise
San Mateo County parks may get a much needed allowance increase
after the board of supervisors voted Tuesday to put a sales tax
measure on the June ballot that will provide revenue for county
A one-eighth cent tax for park and recreation purposes in the
county will provide around $16 million in annual revenue for the
parks, according to the board of supervisors. That funding will
go toward operation, improvement and maintenance of county parks.
A handful of people praised the legislation during Tuesday's
board of supervisors meeting. Executive Director of the San Mateo
County Parks Foundation Julia Bott discussed how well maintained
parks raise the value of homes in the area, and that the tax is
tailored toward new building practices of apartments and homes
with little to no yard space.
Parks are "invaluable to the fabric of our community,"
Bott also discussed a previous attempt to pass the park tax,
in 2006. She said that proponents of the tax have the same support,
but are much more organized this time.
The proposed tax did not pass in 2006 because it did not garner
two-thirds of the vote, according to the board of supervisors.
Because the measure is a special tax, Senate Bill 203 requires
a two-third approval of the electorate.
Ambassador Bill Lane, formerly the ambassador for the U.S. to
Australia and Japan, supported the tax as well. He highlighted
the value that parks provide to county residents, in addition
to the immense economic value they provide.
Tourism in San Mateo County concentrates on park areas, Lane
said. Hotels, restaurants and other businesses, especially those
in coastal areas where many of the county's parks are located,
greatly benefit from the parks.
All five supervisors voted to place the tax on the June 3 ballot.
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