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July 10, 2007

Alameda County Waste Management meets with Teamsters Local 70

Representatives from Waste Management of Alameda County and the union that represents 500 garbage workers met with a federal mediator for three hours Monday, but negotiations proved fruitless.

That the talks were unproductive was "the one thing we can agree on," according to Chuck Mack, the secretary-treasurer of Teamsters Local 70 in Oakland, which represents the workers.

Waste Management locked out the garbage workers at 5 p.m. on July 2 after three months of contract talks were unproductive.

Since that time, the company has deployed substitute workers to provide services to the communities it serves, which are Albany, Emeryville, Oakland, Hayward, Newark, Livermore, the Castro Valley Sanitary District, Oro Loma Sanitary District in parts of San Leandro and San Lorenzo, San Ramon and unincorporated Alameda County.

Waste Management said no new bargaining dates have been set.

But Mack said mediator Jerry Allen "got a good idea of the issues today" and he thinks Allen may call both sides back to the table in the near future.

Waste Management has admitted that garbage has piled up in many areas because the replacement workers don't know the routes well.

But the company said tonight that collection of most trash is returning to normal schedules.

Waste Management area vice president alleged in a statement that the Teamsters have been unwilling to bargain in good faith.

Mack said, "Our members are very strong and committed and are not willing to cave in to concessions" that he said management is requesting.

Palo Alto police investigate arson

Arson is to blame for a fire that gutted a two-story building in Palo Alto on July 1, the Palo Alto Police Department announced Monday.

The fire at 310 University Ave. began at about 9:30 p.m. and took firefighters more than five hours to get under control.

The second level offices were completely gutted and a Subway sandwich shop and Walgreen's pharmacy on the first floor also received major damage.

Fire damages are estimated at nearly $8 million, officials said.

The U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and Explosives has aided Palo Alto and Santa Clara County arson investigators with the investigation.

All agencies involved agree the cause of the fire was arson, officials said.

Investigations are ongoing, officials said, and no suspects have been announced.

Fifteen-year-old girls arrested for burning kitten alive

Two 15-year-old girls will appear in Juvenile Court today in connection with the burning of a live kitten in a cage, the Sonoma County District Attorney's Office said Monday afternoon.

The girls were arrested Friday and charged with killing, maiming or abusing an animal. The maximum penalty is three years confinement, District Attorney Stephan Passalacqua said.

Both suspects are being detained in the county's juvenile hall and the court proceedings are closed to the public, Passalacqua said.

The kitten was found burned in a cage in the Apple Valley neighborhood of Santa Rosa on June 20. Witnesses said they saw two girls standing near the cage.

Five other kittens and an adult cat were collected by an Apple Valley resident for spay or neutering by the Forgotten Felines organization but the cats were left outdoors in their cages overnight, authorities said. The five kittens are still missing.

The male, short hair kitten named Adam received second- and third- degree burns over most of its body and was being treated at an animal hospital in Cotati.

Former Berkeley firefighter sentenced for molestation

Former Berkeley firefighter Luis Ponce was sentenced Monday to 63 years to life in state prison for his conviction on 16 felony counts of molesting two young girls at his home in Grass Valley in Nevada County.

Ponce, 50, was a paramedic supervisor who worked for the Berkeley Fire Department for 17 years before resigning in February 2006 after charges were filed against him both in Nevada County and Alameda County.

The charges against Ponce were based on videotapes found in his home in Grass Valley and in his locker at the Berkeley Fire Department, which showed him molesting two young girls.

Nevada County Deputy District Attorney Charles O'Rourke said he sought a term of 135 years to life for Ponce, but Judge Ersel Edwards sentenced him to a lesser term.

However, O'Rourke said, "I won't complain" about Ponce's sentence because he thinks it's still unlikely that Ponce will ever be released from prison since he will have to serve at least 45 years and won't be eligible for parole until he's more than 100 years old.

Lawsuit claims Oakland International Airport violates Proposition 209

A group that monitors and enforces civil rights laws has filed a lawsuit alleging that the Port of Oakland engages in illegal race- and sex-based bias in awarding concession contracts at the Oakland International Airport.

The suit, filed in Alameda County Superior Court, claims that the airport's "concession disadvantaged business enterprise program" violates state Proposition 209 because it discriminates and grants preferences in the awarding of retail, duty-free and food and beverage concessions.

Proposition 209, which was passed by California voters in 1996, prohibits race- and sex-based preferences or discrimination in public contracting, employment and education.

The suit was filed by the Pacific Legal Foundation, which describes itself as the oldest and largest public-interest legal organization dedicated to limited government, individual rights and property rights, on behalf of the American Civil Rights Organization.

The two groups say the suit is the first legal action in the nation challenging an airport concession policy that discriminates by race or sex.

Sonoma County inmate dies in jail cell

A Sonoma County jail inmate who wanted to be treated by his personal physician was found dead in his cell at the county jail Monday.

Sonoma County Sheriff's Capt. Dave Edmonds identified the inmate as Ryan George. Edmonds said George was admitted to Sutter Medical Center in Santa Rosa on July 1 and was treated, evaluated and released to the jail two days later.

George, 22, was sentenced for spousal battery to 10 months in the Sonoma County jail on April 17 and had until May 31 to turn himself in to the jail.

George's attorney Joseph Stogner said he was to appear in court Monday morning to try to modify George's sentence so he could be released early to get treatment. Stogner said George's family informed him George suffered from sickle cell anemia.

Stogner confirmed George was cleared by Sutter Medical Center to return to the jail.

Edmonds said the Marin County Sheriff's Office will investigate George's in custody death.

San Rafael mother not charged for leaving son unattended in SUV

San Rafael police spokeswoman Margo Rohrbacher said Monday no charges will be filed against the mother whose 6-year-old son was driven away in her unattended sport utility vehicle on Friday.

The boy, Petey Peterson, was found safe in the 2004 GMC Yukon an hour later about 10 blocks from the Marin Day School's daycare center on Court Street.

The boy's mother left her son in the SUV with the engine running and the keys in the ignition while she went to pick up her other child at the daycare center around 2:30 p.m. She returned moments later to see the Yukon driving down Court Street with her son still in the back seat.

An Amber Alert was issued and the Yukon was found on Shaver Street around 3:35 p.m. The Yukon's engine was still running and the air conditioning was on, police said, and the boy was still strapped in his booster seat.

Peterson said the driver was a dark-skinned man in a green shirt and tan pants. He is still at large and police have no further description of the suspect, Rohrbacher said.

Foster City police find sexual assault suspect in Berkeley jail

A man arrested in Berkeley early Saturday morning on domestic violence charges was found to have had an outstanding warrant stemming from an unrelated sexual assault case in Foster City, officials said Monday.

The Foster City Police Department believe Ricardo Solis-Montenegro, 36, attacked a 32-year-old woman while she was inline skating on a pedestrian walkway near Baffin Street in April of 2006.

Police believe the suspect jumped out from bushes along the walkway and tackled the woman before stating his intent to sexually assault her.

The woman was able to remove her skates and run from the suspect without further attack, according to police. Undisclosed physical evidence led police to believe Solis-Montenegro was the attacker.

Solis-Montenegro is being held in a local jail in Berkeley until a set of unrelated domestic violence charges are addressed, police said. He will then be transferred to San Mateo County Jail to appear in court on the Foster City warrant.

Copyright © 2007 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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