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July 11, 2007

By Ananda Shorey

Oakland Airport delayed after man sneaks by security checkpoint

Passengers at Oakland International Airport were delayed while bomb-sniffing dogs and officers searched planes and two terminals Tuesday after authorities couldn't locate a man who walked through an exit lane adjacent to a security checkpoint, an airport spokeswoman said.

Security checkpoints were closed at 9:05 a.m. when the man walked up an exit lane in Terminal 1 that people deplaning use to go to the baggage claim area, said airport spokeswoman Rosemary Barnes.

Law enforcement officials monitor the area, but the man still managed to get by, Barnes said.

"Like salmon going upstream, he was able to get up to that exit lane undetected," she said.

The man passed the checkpoint in Terminal 1, which the Transportation Security Administration then closed so they could inspect the area, TSA spokesman Nico Melendez said.

"People get misdirected like that. They don't know where they are going so they go the wrong way," Melendez said. "It was not a breach, it was an incident."

Since the man could not be located, the airport had to conduct a search, which temporarily caused delays.

"If we don't find the individual we have to go through a number of steps to deem the airport safe and secure," Barnes said.

Officers and dogs searched 14 airplanes that were waiting to depart, Barnes said.

The Terminal 1 checkpoint was reopened at 10:15 a.m. The second checkpoint, which was in Terminal 2, reopened at 10:45 a.m., Barnes said.

Fight breaks out at Oakland City Council meeting

The head of a small business group and Oakland's most prominent developer nearly came to blows at a heated Oakland City Council committee meeting Tuesday.

When developer Phil Tagami walked out of the Community and Economic Development Committee meeting after what he perceived as a slight from Councilman Larry Reid, Darrel Carey, the president of the East Bay Small Business Council, chased him outside City Hall and challenged him to a fight.

Reid leapt from his seat at the council table and followed both men outside.

He held Carey back as Tagami walked away.

Carey then threatened Sanjiv Handa, the sole proprietor of the East Bay News Service, who was taking photographs of the tense scene.

"Get that camera out of my face," Carey yelled.

The clash came about while the committee was discussing a report from city staff on the city's progress in meeting local contracting and hiring goals for the Fox Theater renovation project that Tagami is involved in.

Carey complained that Tagami and other project officials were putting potential Oakland partners and employees "through hell" before agreeing to allow some of them to participate in the project.

Tagami said he was "disappointed" in Carey's remarks and called them "fiction."

Stating, "I'll stick to the facts," Tagami said that while many Oakland residents are qualified to participate in the project many people aren't qualified for various reasons, including a lack of financial experience.

When Reid said Carey does important work in making sure that Oakland residents are chosen, Tagami complained, "That's a shakedown, man" and stormed from the room.

Responding to Tagami, who has been involved in many big developments with the city, Carey said, "You've been shaking down the city for years" and then chased after the developer.

Carey later took the speaker's podium and told the committee, "I apologize. It was unnecessary but sometimes that's called for.

Alameda County Board of Supervisors demands end to garbage worker lockout

The Alameda County Board of Supervisors voted 5-0 Tuesday to send a letter asking Waste Management of Alameda County to immediately end its lockout of 500 garbage workers and resume contract negotiations.

Board of Supervisors President Scott Haggerty said he believes the lockout, which began at 5 p.m. on July 2, is a public health issue, as uncollected garbage is piling up in many of the communities served by Waste Management.

The East Bay communities served by Waste Management 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.

Since the lockout, Waste Management has deployed temporary workers to provide services to those communities but it has admitted that garbage has piled up in many areas because the temporary workers don't know the routes well.

However, it says its service has improved in recent days.

Haggerty said, "It is deeply disturbing to me that Waste Management, which has a contract with the county and a mission of good public health, will use its own employees and local businesses affected by it as a ploy."

Haggerty said he invited Waste Management to send a representative to Tuesday's meeting but the company declined.

Waste Management spokesman David Tucker said he can't comment on the Board of Supervisors' letter because it hasn't seen it yet.

Haggerty said he thinks the lockout was "ill-conceived" because the garbage workers were willing to continue working after their contract expired on June 30.

Construction workers start fire at Thurgood Marshall High School

Firefighters believe adhesion spilled by construction workers on a roof at the Thurgood Marshall High School started the three-alarm fire that burned for half an hour Tuesday afternoon, Gentle Blythe of the San Francisco Unified School District said.

Blythe called the damage "very minimal," since the blaze was contained to a concrete roof where the tar burned.

The fire, which was reported at 1:46 p.m. and brought under control at 2:13 p.m., was located at 45 Conkling St. in the city's Silver Terrace neighborhood.

School was not in session, and staff members on the school's premises were able to exit the building safely, Blythe said.

No injuries have been reported.

Halberstam driver arraigned on vehicular manslaughter charges

The student who was driving David Halberstam to an interview in April when their car crashed in Menlo Park, killing the Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, will be arraigned this morning in San Mateo County Superior Court on misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter charges.

Halberstam, 73, of New York City, was killed in a three-car collision near the Dumbarton Bridge in Menlo Park the morning of April 23.

The crash was reported shortly after 10:30 a.m. on the westbound Bayfront Expressway at Willow Road, according to Menlo Park police.

At the time, Halberstam was in the passenger seat of a Toyota Camry being driven by Kevin Jones, a 26-year-old student at the University of California, Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, as they were on their way to a book interview. Halberstam was pronounced dead at the scene.

District Attorney James Fox announced on June 21 that a review by his office of the circumstances surrounding the crash warranted a charge of vehicular manslaughter without gross negligence against Jones.

According to Chief Deputy District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe, multiple witnesses to the crash reported seeing Jones' Camry drive through a red light at the intersection before being broadsided by another car.

Jones remains out of custody and is scheduled to appear at 9 a.m. in Courtroom 4A in San Mateo County Superior Court in Redwood City.

Alameda County man charged with special circumstances murder

A convicted murderer and rapist was charged Tuesday with special circumstances murder for allegedly celebrating his 55th birthday on Sunday by stabbing his wife to death and also stabbing her sister and her sister's son.

Jesus Jihad, 55, was scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday afternoon in Alameda County Superior Court.

Assistant District Attorney Tom Rogers said Jihad is charged with one count of murder for allegedly stabbing his wife, 35-year-old Aisha Hendricks 10 times and two counts of assault with a deadly weapon for allegedly stabbing her sister Emma Bowers, and Bowers' 17-year-old son DeAnthony.

Rogers said he also charged Jihad with the special circumstance of multiple murder because Jihad was convicted in 1974 of murdering a man in Alameda in 1973.

In addition, Jihad was convicted of rape and forcible oral copulation for a 1993 attack in Berkeley, Rogers said.

Jihad could face the death penalty if he's convicted of special circumstances murder.

Rogers said witnesses say that Jihad laughed and smiled as he stabbed Hendricks several times shortly before 9:30 p.m. Sunday at the apartment they shared in the 2300 block of 92nd Avenue.

The prosecutor said Jihad is accused of then going to a downstairs apartment where he stabbed Bowers at least three times.

When Hendricks yelled at him to stop stabbing Bowers, Jihad then stabbed Hendricks some more, Rogers said. He said Jihad stabbed Hendricks a total of 10 times.

Rogers said Bowers' son came back to the apartment complex when someone told him his mother was being attacked but Jihad then stabbed him in the face.

He said Bowers and her son have been treated for their wounds and are expected to survive.

Prosecutors drop charges against former aides to San Jose mayor

Prosecutors dropped all charges Tuesday morning against two men who worked as aides to former San Jose Mayor Ron Gonzales and were charged with violating San Jose's "revolving door'' ordinance that bars high-level city employees from lobbying for a year after they leave government service.

Tony Arreola and Sharanjit "Sean'' Kali-Rai were indicted on grand theft, perjury and conspiracy charges in December 2006. Both men left the mayor's office in 2000 to work at Arreola's lobbying firm, Silicon Valley Strategies. Arreola was Gonzales's deputy chief of staff and Kali-Rai worked in the mayor's budget and policy office.

Deputy District Attorney Steve Lowney said he decided to drop the charges after reviewing the case and concluding that San Jose's ordinance did not contain specific criminal penalties for violations.

"We don't have jurisdiction over it,'' Lowney said.

The ordinance was also awkwardly worded making it difficult for lobbyists such as Arreola and Kali-Rai to understand their disclosure requirements, the basis for the perjury charges, according to Lowney.

Arreola's attorney Craig Brown said the charges should have never been filed in the first place. He praised District Attorney Dolores Carr for removing the case's original prosecutor, Deputy District Attorney David Pandori, and ordering a review of the case when she took office in January. According to Brown, Pandori, who ran for mayor of San Jose last year on an anti-corruption platform, had an obvious conflict of interest and agenda.

"Essentially someone was out to get them, to make an example of them, to do a number on lobbyists,'' Brown said.

Lowney would not comment on Brown's accusations.

Arreola issued a statement in which he said "justice triumphed over politics.''

Willie Mays Boys and Girls Club breaks ground in Hunters Point

San Francisco Giants legend Willie Mays Tuesday helped break ground on a multi-million dollar renovation of the Hunters Point Boys and Girls Club, now named, Willie Mays Boys and Girls Club.

Mays joined Mayor Gavin Newsom and Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig in the groundbreaking at 195 Kiska Rd.

In 2004, the site was turned over to the Boys and Girls Club in response to escalating violence in the area, Major League Baseball said in a statement Tuesday.

Once completed, the club will serve more than 200 children every day and will feature a new learning and multi-media technology center, an art studio, a teen center, and a full size gymnasium, among other amenities, MLB officials said.

The site will also feature a San Francisco Police Department community policing office.

Juveniles responsible for Stanford fire

The Stanford University Department of Public Safety announced Tuesday that two juveniles playing with matches were responsible for starting the June 25 fire in the Stanford Dish area that burned 171 acres.

The juveniles' identities are not being released. Authorities were informed of their role in the blaze by one of their mothers.

"The juveniles were playing with matches, trying to light dried grass, when the fire ignited,'' Stanford Department of Public Safety Capt. Nick Brunot said in a statement. "The juveniles and a passing witness attempted to extinguish the fire, but it spread quickly. The parent of one of the juveniles discovered her child's involvement in starting the fire and contacted the Stanford Department of Public Safety and the Palo Alto Fire Department.''

The Santa Clara County Juvenile Probation Department is reviewing the juveniles' case for possible action, according to Brunot.

The Dish area, a popular hiking spot on the lower Peninsula, is closed at least until Saturday as a result of the June 25 blaze and a subsequent July 5 20-acre grass fire in the foothills near Junipero Serra Boulevard and Campus Drive east. The cause of the July 5 fire has not been determined.

Man struck by Amtrak train hospitalized

A 35-year-old man struck by an Amtrak train in San Pablo Tuesday afternoon has been transported by helicopter to John Muir Medical Center for treatment, although his condition is unknown at this time.

The train that struck the man was delayed for close to two hours, but has returned to its regular operations, Amtrak spokeswoman Vernae Graham said.

Amtrak Capitol Corridor train No. 537 was three miles east of the Richmond Station when it struck the man at about 1:40 p.m., Graham said.

According to Graham, the maximum speed posted in that area for an Amtrak train is 79 mph, although she said she doubts the train that struck the man was traveling that fast.

None of the 63 passengers or crew members were injured, Graham said.

Only one track was affected by the collision and no other trains were delayed, Graham said. The train was moving again by 3:20 p.m.

Graham said that Union Pacific police were the first to respond to the incident and are conducting the investigation. A Union Pacific spokesperson couldn't be immediately reached for comment.

A Contra Costa County deputy coroner said that the man was still alive at 5 p.m. Tuesday.

Santa Clara County sheriff deputies raid pot garden

After clearing more than 18,000 pot plants near Mt. Hamilton Monday, the Santa Clara County sheriff's marijuana eradication team was at it again Tuesday, tackling another garden.

Deputies, with the Bureau of Narcotics Enforcement, used a helicopter to lower about 20 personnel into a private hillside garden near the Lick Observatory Monday. Deputies found numerous bags full of harvested marijuana buds, 18,000 plants and chemicals and hoses used to irrigate and nourish the plants.

Santa Clara County sheriff's Sgt. Ed Wise valued the plants at $4,000 each and said the bagged plants were signs of very recent activity. The bags were valued between $3,500 and $6,000 each.

Wise described the area as "very rugged and mountainous terrain.''

Downtown Palo Alto roads open after fire

Roads were opening Tuesday night at the scene of a massive fire in downtown Palo Alto.

The development could not come sooner for Lynn Kuo, manager of University Coffee Cafi, who said her business has definitely been impacted by the July 1 blaze that severely damaged a building on the corner of University Avenue and Bryant Street.

"We don't have the traffic," Kuo said.

Kuo estimated her business was down by about 20 percent since the fire. She said locals are still coming in, but tourists seem to be avoiding the area.

Roads surrounding 310 University Ave. were closed due to debris and a large air-conditioning unit in the street. University Avenue was to be completely opened by 4 p.m., according to Palo Alto police Sgt. Sandra Brown.

The southbound lane of Bryant Street between University Avenue and Hamilton Avenue, which was also closed off, was also to clear by 4 p.m. Pedestrian access along the burned out building will remain closed.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives along with Palo Alto police and fire have determined the fire to be arson. No suspects have been identified, according to Brown.

The fire began July 1 at about 9:30 p.m. and took firefighters five hours to get under control.

Wayans brothers plans for West Oakland film studio approved

An Oakland City Council committee voted unanimously Tuesday to approve a new four-month exclusive negotiating agreement with the Wayans brothers of television and movie fame to bring a film studio and entertainment center to the former army base in West Oakland.

After winning approval from the Community and Economic Development Committee, the agreement now goes to the full city council July 17 for final approval.

After the meeting, Keenen Ivory Wayans said he and his brothers Marlon, Shawn and Damon want to bring an entertainment center to Oakland because they consider it to be "a sleeping giant" and "an urban center without a spark."

"The community was the inspiration for this," Keenen Wayans said.

He wants the center to provide "opportunity, jobs, education and an outlet" for Oakland and particularly its youth.

He said he hopes the center will be "an iconic destination for Oakland."

The Wayans Brothers and Pacifica Capital Group, both of Los Angeles, want to develop 70 acres in West Oakland by building a state-of-the-art movie production studio, urban retail village, creative educational fun zone for kids and digital arts center.

This is the second time the Wayans brothers have come before the Oakland City Council for the project.

On June 22, 2005, the council approved an exclusive negotiating agreement that included another developer, the Fulton Project Development Group.

But that agreement expired in May after the team failed to meet most of its deadlines.

The new agreement includes an aggressive list of tasks to be delivered in a much shorter time period.

Failure to meet any of the deadlines could nullify the agreement and doom the project.

Oakland City Council President Ignacio De La Fuente said he supports the new agreement because of the strict deadlines.

"It's a very well-developed and tight agreement," he said.

Councilman Larry Reid, another committee member, said he believes that if the development succeeds "people from around the world and around the country will come to Oakland."

Pacifica Capital partner Britten Shuford told the committee that the developers have met their initial deadlines but admitted there are still "a lot of milestones to meet."

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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