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By Michael Aldax

July 12, 2007

Tensions mount in garbage worker strike

Tempers continued to flare Wednesday in the ongoing impasse between Waste Management of Alameda County and locked out union garbage workers.

On the same day Waste Management announced it had restored most weekly collection services to its customers, union leaders and workers continued picketing outside the company's headquarters at 172 98th Ave. in Oakland.

To further complicate matters, one worker was allegedly struck and injured by a Waste Management vehicle entering the south side of the facility.

Don Crosatto, a leader of Machinists Local Lodge 1546, which is one of three unions affected by the company's decision to lock out more than 500 workers beginning on July 2, said a security vehicle hit Don Welch at least once in an incident about 6:30 a.m. Wednesday.

Crosatto said the incident occurred on the south side of the company's property on Adams Avenue in San Leandro, where trucks are dispatched to pick up garbage.

Crosatto said the security vehicle was a sports utility vehicle that was closely following a garbage truck that was headed into the dispatch area.

Galen Munroe of the national office of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, another union affected by the lockout, said he was told that the vehicle hit Welch once and then hit him a second time, sending him into the street.

Teamsters Local 70 secretary-treasurer Chuck Mack discussed the incident at a rally Wednesday that was attended by about 200 sanitation workers outside Waste Management's transfer station on Davis Street in San Leandro.

Mack alleged that the driver's conduct was "absolutely outrageous" and accused him of leaving the scene of an accident.

The allegation was the latest drama of what is now a seasoned impasse between the waste disposal company and its workers.

Members of the San Leandro, Hayward and Berkeley City Councils joined the workers Wednesday and called on Waste Management to end the lockout and resume negotiations with its employees.

On Tuesday, the Alameda County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to urge the same action.

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.

The company and union representatives met with a federal mediator on Monday but didn't make any progress.

Antibacterial soap and plastic bottles declared a threat to animals and humans

A study released Wednesday says that chemicals found in household products such as antibacterial soap and plastic bottles are found in sewage water that's discharged into the San Francisco Bay and pose a threat to wildlife and humans.

The study was conducted by the Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit group based in Washington, D.C., and with its West Coast office in Oakland, at the request of the East Bay Municipal Utility District.

The study says that chemical ingredients are leaching out of toothpaste, deodorant, canned food liners and vinyl and polycarbonate plastics but pass through municipal sewage plants virtually untreated.

According to the study, while wastewater treatment is extremely effective in removing biodegradable food and human waste, as well as many metals, it was never designed to address this broad spectrum of unregulated chemical pollution.

The study says advances in wastewater treatment may reduce some types of pollution, but new chemicals are introduced continuously into the marketplace.

Inspectors who participated in the study found three types of chemicals in the San Francisco Bay: phthalates, bisphenol A and triclosan. All are suspected of interfering with hormone systems of humans and wildlife.

Speaking at a news conference by the Bay at Crown Memorial State Beach in Alameda, Bill Walker, a vice president for the Environmental Working Group, urged consumers to make better choices in the type of products they buy.

For example, he said consumers should stop using antibacterial soaps, which frequently contain triclosan, and other products containing harmful chemicals.

Spaying and neutering law held over in Assembly

A bill that would require spaying and neutering of California's cats and dogs that was supposed to face a vote Wednesday was held over due to lack of support.

"Rather than let the bill die there and start from scratch, we decided to hold it over till January," said Alex Traverso, spokesman for Assemblyman Lloyd Levine, D-Van Nuys.

A five-person senate committee was supposed to vote on the bill Wednesday morning, said Traverso, "We needed three senators to vote for it, and the support wasn't there."

Bill AB 1634 would require local governments to fine pet owners who do not spay or neuter their dog or cat. Owners wishing to breed their animals would be able to pay a fee in order to obtain a license.

Levine proposed the bill in order to curb the euthanasia of about 400,000 animals killed across the state every year.

The bill was amended seven times but still faces opposition from dog and cat breeders, many of whom breed as a hobby and say they not have money to pay for a breeding license.

Other animal activists, such as Concerned Dog Owner of California director Cathie Turner, say mandatory spay and neuter laws are simply ineffective and may cause public health risks if owners of unaltered pets fear rapprochement and don't get animals vaccinated against rabies.

Teenager who set off illegal fireworks in Dolores Park arrested

A teenager was arrested Wednesday for allegedly setting off dangerous fireworks on July 4 in the area of Dolores Park in the Mission District, the same area where an errant firework significantly injured a teenage girl's hand.

The 17-year-old San Francisco resident has not been charged in the crime against the teenage girl due to insufficient evidence, according to the San Francisco Police Department.

But the investigation into the maiming of the girl in Dolores Park led police to believe the juvenile did at least ignite explosive devices in the area, police said.

The suspect has been charged with four counts of discharging dangerous fireworks and one count of discharging fireworks, causing damage around Dolores Park, police said.

Anyone with information regarding the maiming of the victim is encouraged to call the Special Investigations Division at (415) 553-1133.

Two homicides reported in Oakland

Two homicides were reported in Oakland Wednesday afternoon, according to Oakland Police Department officials.

The first homicide occurred just after noon Wednesday. A woman was reportedly found with stab wounds in the 600 block of West Grand Avenue. She was taken to Highland Hospital, where she later succumbed to her injuries, according to police.

The second homicide victim was reported at 4:50 p.m. Oakland police found a dead body in the 2100 block of West Street.

The victim reportedly suffered a gunshot wound to the leg. Police are unsure whether the wound caused the victim's death or where the shooting had occurred.

Both homicides are under investigation, police said.

Napa grass fire contained

A grass fire in Napa County that scorched 60 acres along Atlas Peak Road Wednesday is now 100-percent contained, according to a dispatcher.

The fire was contained at around 6 p.m., the dispatcher said.

All structures threatened by the fire were saved, and there were no injuries, according to the report.

The fire was reported at 2:13 p.m. above the Silverado Country Club and the Bubbling Well Pet Cemetery east of Napa.

Castro District fire injures three

An adult and two juveniles were injured in a blaze that broke out in a three-unit flat in San Francisco's Castro District Wednesday.

The fire scorched the top floor of a three-story building at 4680 18th St. and was contained 18 minutes after it was reported at 7:11 p.m., said San Francisco Fire Lt. Ken Smith.

The condition of the injured parties is unknown, Smith said. They've been transported to San Francisco General Hospital.

The cause of the fire is under investigation, Smith said.

Man arrested for stealing Gameboy from 8-year-old boy

A man was arrested Wednesday for allegedly swiping a Nintendo Gameboy from an 8-year-old boy at a downtown Santa Rosa mall.

Santa Rosa Police Department officials say Eric Radford, 18, of Santa Rosa, forcibly grabbed the game console from a boy waiting with his mother at a bus stop.

A witness who grew suspicious when she saw the suspect running from the mall contacted police, officials said.

Upon detaining Radford, Santa Rosa police say they recovered the Nintendo Gameboy and returned it to the victim.

Radford was arrested and booked into the Sonoma County jail on robbery charges, police said.

Novato residents arrested for growing pot

Marin County authorities said five people were arrested Wednesday after 224 marijuana plants were found growing in a residence at 132 Indian Hill Drive in Novato.

Marin County Sheriff's Sgt. Keith Boyd said deputies also found $9,000 in U.S. currency in the house.

The investigation began two months ago when the Novato Police Department provided information regarding a tip that high usage on a PG&E meter was noticed at the residence.

The Marin County Major Crimes Task Force then determined the residence was vacant and uninhabited but the PG&E meter was "spinning" at a rate indicating high electricity use, Boyd said.

On Tuesday, task force members saw two vehicles in the driveway and determined they were registered to owners in San Jose and Orange County, Boyd said. Detectives noticed the strong smell of marijuana at the front door and one of the residents allowed the detectives inside, Boyd said.

Former Sonoma County Sheriff convicted of perjury

A Sonoma County jury Wednesday afternoon convicted former Sonoma County Sheriff's deputy Marcus Parker of perjury in connection with twice selling his sports utility vehicle.

Parker, 36, faces up to four years in prison when he is sentenced Aug. 20. He is free on bail.

Sonoma County Superior Court Judge Elliot Daum had already dismissed vehicle theft, grand theft auto, theft and receiving stolen property charges against Parker before the jury returned its verdict after deliberating Wednesday morning. The judge ruled the prosecution did not present evidence to support those allegations.

The remaining perjury count alleged Parker committed perjury when he told the California Department of Motor Vehicles he lost the pink slip to his GMC Yukon when he applied for a duplicate title to the vehicle in June 2004.

Richmond gang arrested for drug charges

C" street gang that operates in Richmond's Iron Triangle neighborhood were arrested Wednesday morning after a 10-month undercover investigation.

DaNicholas Evans, 24, of Richmond; Robert Williams, 20, of Richmond; Brandon Thomas, 22, of Oakland; and Nathanial Carter, 22, of Richmond were named in the indictment. Richmond police Lt. Mark Gagan said the suspects were all arrested shortly after 10 a.m. Wednesday.

The arrests follow indictments that were unsealed Wednesday by a Contra Costa County grand jury, according to the U.S. Department of Justice Drug Enforcement Administration.

All four men face various state drug charges and, if convicted, could face up to 19 years in prison, according to the DEA.

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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