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By Mike Aldux

July 18, 2007

Court order won't sway Waste Management

A spokeswoman for Waste Management of Alameda County said Tuesday that a judge's order compelling the company to abide by its contract and provide complete garbage service to the city of Oakland won't affect the way the company conducts its business.

Spokeswoman Monica Devincenzi said that's because the company believes it already is providing full garbage collection services to Oakland despite its decision on July 2 to lock out more than 500 workers

"We remain committed to serving our customers and the ruling doesn't change that," Devincenzi said.

But at a hearing in his courtroom Tuesday, Alameda County Superior Court Judge Richard Keller said declarations and photographs provided by Oakland's attorneys, along with news media coverage, have convinced him that Waste Management isn't providing full service in Oakland and much garbage remains uncollected.

"I can't ignore what I saw on TV last night," Keller said.

John Lynn Smith, an attorney for Waste Management, admitted, "in the early days (after the lockout started) we didn't pick up all the routes" and "we're playing catch up."

But he insisted that full service was restored by Monday and said "today is the second full day of full service."

But Oakland Deputy City Attorney Kandis Westmore told the judge, "This is not the second day of full service because there hasn't been a first day."

Smith said one reason replacement drivers hired by Waste Management have been slow to serve all their assigned routes is that locked-out Teamsters Local 70 members have been blocking trucks when they try to leave the company's yard in San Leandro in the morning.

Smith said drivers were delayed up to three hours on Monday but he said things went better Tuesday because San Leandro police officers were at the yard Tuesday to prevent Teamsters from blocking garbage trucks.

In addition to Oakland, the lockout impacts Waste Management's service to its other customers in the East Bay, which are Albany, Emeryville, 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.

Board of Supervisors pass budget

Initial passage by the Board of Supervisors Tuesday of the governmental budget for the next year provided a snapshot of San Francisco's spending: about $6.1 billion to provide public services, retire debt and contribute to pensions and investments.

Supervisors' unanimous vote also authorizes issuance of bonds to finance redevelopment and codifies fee increases already in practice since last September on city golf courses and athletic fields.

Overall spending rose 5.5 percent over last year while budgeted employee positions rose to 27,990 from last year's mark of 27,162, or a 3 percent increase.

City budget analysts reported a $10 million decrease in expected capital and facilities maintenance costs over last year. And reserves held by the city for contingencies rose by about 25 percent over last year to almost $80 million.

The reserve fund is buttressed by the city's Rainy Day reserve, which analysts reported a balance of $117 million for economic stabilization purposes and $15.8 million for capital needs such as maintaining the city's buildings, public works and fleet of vehicles.

Lawmakers gave the Public Education Enrichment Fund the greatest overall general fund increase over last year, jumping 350 percent from $6.66 million to $30 million over the next 12 months.

A bright spot was the influx of $146.4 million in revenues from transfer of real estate from one owner to another. The relatively hot real estate market in 2006-07 was $41 million more than officials expected. Analysts noted that Mayor Gavin Newsom's financial planners did not expect such a large increase to recur this year.

Final passage of the budget requires one more vote before the mayor can sign it into law.

Napa Valley Unified School District to appeal dress code injunction

The Napa Valley Unified School District said Tuesday it would appeal a preliminary injunction that set aside the Redwood Middle School's controversial appropriate attire policy.

Napa County Superior Court judge Raymond A. Guadagni ruled this month that the district's dress code was in violation of the federal and state constitution and the California Education Code.

Guadagni said the district's 9-year-old appropriate attire policy, which allows only certain solid colors and prohibits logos, words, patterns, pictures and jeans, is broad and restrictive.

"If the defendants wish to continue enforcement of their attire policy, they must provide six months' notice of the policy and they must provide parents with an opt-out provision," Guadagni said in issuing a preliminary injunction July 2. The judge heard arguments in the case in May.

In a prepared statement, Sally Dutcher, the school district's general counsel, said the district's Board of Education approved taking the issue to the appellate court. She said the appeal should result in the policy remaining in effect while the appellate court reviews whether the preliminary order was appropriate under the law.

"The Board of Education believes this case of first impression should be resolved on full record, and the superior court order short-circuits that process," Dutcher said. She said the board believes any changes to the policy should be agreed upon and implemented during the course of the 2007-2008 school year.

"We believe that when all litigation is complete, there will still be a legal appropriate attire policy in effect at Redwood Middle School," Dutcher said in a prepared statement Tuesday.

Dutcher said dozens of administrators, teachers and parents worked on the attire policy for almost a decade and students have found it assisted with the learning process at the school.

State appeals court approves 49ers' patdown policy

The San Francisco 49ers' policy of conducting patdown searches of fans who attend football games was approved by a divided state appeals court Tuesday.

A Court of Appeal panel in San Francisco said by a 2-1 vote that a Danville husband and wife who sued the team "have no reasonable expectation of privacy" because they knew about the patdowns when they bought tickets for the 2006 season.

Longtime season ticket holders Daniel and Kathleen Sheehan claimed in a San Francisco Superior Court lawsuit in 2005 that the patdowns violate the California constitution's guarantee of privacy.

But the appeals court majority said the couple by implication consented to the policy by voluntarily purchasing 2006 season tickets.

Justice Timothy Reardon wrote, "By voluntarily re-upping for the next season under these circumstances, rather than opting to avoid the intrusion by not attending games at Monster Park, the Sheehans impliedly consented to the patdowns."

Reardon said in the ruling, "Rather than submit to the patdown the Sheehans had the choice of walking away, no questions asked."

The Sheehans, a retired glazier and former school employee who moved to Danville after spending most of their lives in San Francisco, were represented by lawyers working with the American Civil Liberties Union, who were not immediately available to comment on the ruling.

The patdowns were instituted by the 49ers in the fall of 2005 in response to a nationwide mandate by National Football League, which said football stadiums are a potential terrorist target.

The 49ers' inspections "consisted of screeners running their hands around ticker holders' backs and down the sides of their bodies and their legs," the court said.

Murder suspect's estranged wife convinced of his guilt

The estranged wife of a man accused of murdering an elderly Millbrae couple became convinced her husband committed the crimes after hearing reports in the news on the way they were killed, she testified Tuesday at a preliminary hearing in San Mateo County Superior Court.

Joseph George Cua, 53, a part-time resident of both Burlingame and Hemet in Southern California, remains in custody without bail after his arrest in Oxnard a few days after Millbrae police discovered the brutally beaten bodies of Fernand and Suzanne Wagner in their home at 623 Lomita Ave.

Fernand Wagner, 78, was an investor and Suzanne Wagner, 68, was a part-time hairstylist. Police discovered their bodies after Suzanne Wagner failed to show up to work on June 14, 2006.

Cua managed properties for the Wagners in Burlingame and San Jose and was arrested following a phone tip from a confidential source that identified him as a possible suspect, according to authorities.

Joy Cua told a judge Tuesday that when Joseph Cua returned to the couple's Hemet home after an urgent trip he told her was for business, he appeared to be shocked and sounded distraught when informing her the Wagners had both been shot to death.

But after noticing significant cuts and bruises on her husband's leg and hand, and learning from news reports that the couple had been beaten to death and not shot, her suspicions against her husband were confirmed, Joy Cua said.

"I know he did it now," she recalled.

The couple has had ongoing divorce proceedings for more than two years, and the marriage had not been harmonious at the time of the murders, Joy Cua testified during cross-examination. She harbored long-term suspicions that her husband had been wiretapping her phone, and she knew little of his business dealings, she said.

"I knew there were a lot of lines never to be crossed when we were together," she said.

Joy Cua also admitted she has been trying to publish a book about the murders and about her husband's behavior over the course of their relationship.

"Joseph and living with a psychopath," she described curtly.

Further testimony during the afternoon from the Wagners' estate planning attorney indicated Cua had originally been designated an executor of the Wagner's trust, but was removed as the successor trustee in 2005.

Thomas Rogers, a forensic pathologist with the San Mateo County Coroner's Office who conducted the autopsies of Fernand and Suzanne Wagner, testified earlier Tuesday that both died of trauma from multiple blunt injuries, including multiple skull and rib fractures "not commonly seen to this extent" and more common in car crashes.

Fernand also suffered a slashed jugular vein in his neck and Suzanne was strangled and had vaginal injuries from some kind of sharp, cutting instrument, Rogers testified.

Fremont Police coax man from office building ledge

A lockdown of a Fremont office building ended after local police talked a man out of leaping off the four-story building on Tuesday, Detective Bill Veteran said.

The lockdown began at the building at 1860 Mowry Ave. at noon, when police first responded to the incident.

Hostage negotiators, detectives and SWAT teams were deployed to scene, according to Sgt. Chris Mazzone.

No injuries were reported and police found that the man, who claimed he had a weapon, was unarmed.

The man, who was reportedly in his 30s, was transported to Washington Hospital, where he will undergo psychiatric evaluation.

At this point, police believe the man will not face charges, Veteran said.

Great America mandates lifejackets for children

In the wake of last week's drowning at Great America, the amusement park's parent company has decided to mandate children 4 feet and under wear lifejackets at the park's wave pool and "Castaway Creek'' lazy river attraction, Great America spokesman Gene Fruge said Tuesday.

The new rule applies to all 18 of Cedar Fair's parks across the United States, including several other wave pools similar to the one 4-year-old Carlos Flores drowned in Thursday.

At the time of the drowning, signs had been posted at the pool recommending lifejackets for children. Lifejackets are also available free of charge to anyone who wants them.

The boy was found without a lifejacket under the surface of about \two feet of water, according to officials.

Carlos' mother was reportedly sitting on the beach while Carlos and his sister were in the water, according to Fruge. The wave pool has six lifeguards.

The lifejacket rule was in effect at some other parks owned by Cedar Fair but the rule has been expanded now to all parks, Cedar Fair spokeswoman Stacy Frole said.

Antioch man suffers three gunshot wounds

A man suffered three gunshot wounds Tuesday tonight in the 1100 block of West Fifth Street in Antioch, according to Antioch police.

An Antioch police officer heard about four or five shots being fired just before 8 p.m. while on downtown patrol, police said. The officer found the wounded man on the ground in front of an apartment complex.

Witnesses told the officer they saw a maroon or burgundy Nissan or Honda fleeing the scene following the shootings.

The victim was flown to John Muir Medical Center in Walnut Creek, where he is listed in critical but stable condition.

The Antioch Police Department encourages anyone with information about the shooting to call (925) 778-2441.

Richmond police investigate shooting in Iron Triangle neighborhood

Police are investigating a shooting that critically injured a man in Richmond's Iron Triangle neighborhood Tuesday afternoon, Richmond police Lt. Mark Gagan said.

Police received a report of shots fired at 2:44 p.m., Gagan said. Officers arrived to find the driver of a vehicle in critical condition.

The victim had apparently been driving his car in the 600 block of Harbour Way when he was shot, Gagan said, and then crashed the vehicle a block and a half away on Ninth Street at Ripley Avenue.

The man was airlifted to a local hospital for treatment and homicide investigators were interviewing witnesses to see if anyone else was in the car at the time of the shooting.

No motive for the shooting has been determined and no suspects have been identified, Gagan said.

BART up and running, with delays

All Bay Area Rapid Transit service was up and running Tuesday afternoon following system-wide delays caused by a cracked rail inside the eastbound side of the Transbay Tube.

"We have great news to report . . . it appears we are going to resume service by the evening commute," BART spokesman Linton Johnson said.

Delays between 15 to 30 minutes are expected as service resumes, Johnson said, but all should be on time come the evening commute.

The crack in the rail was first reported at 12:28 p.m. BART officials had full service resumed at 2:21 p.m., Johnson said.

While BART crews worked to restore the rail inside the eastbound tube, all eastbound and westbound trains were forced to share the westbound side of the tube track, causing significant delays.

Oakland Unified School District appoints Glaster as CFO

The Oakland Unified School District said Tuesday that Leon Glaster has been appointed as its interim chief financial officer.

According to school district officials, Glaster has nearly three decades of senior leadership experience and for the past 13 years has served as the top financial executive for several school districts in the Bay Area, including East Palo Alto, San Jose and San Leandro.

Glaster succeeds Javetta Robinson, who was recently fired by Kimberly Statham, the state administrator who runs the financially troubled school district.

Robinson served as chief financial officer for two-and-a-half years.

In a statement Tuesday, Statham praised Glaster as "a veteran administrator with a strong record of achievement in Bay Area school districts."

Statham said, "He has a demonstrated ability to handle the demands that accompany financial management of a large, urban school district and established methods for improving the fiscal standing of a school system."

School district officials say that as interim CFO, Glaster's responsibilities will include administration of all budget development and financial forecasting, as well as supervision of all insurance programs and procurement, print shop, nutrition, facilities and payroll services.

Fairfield man to re-enter pleas for murder, DUI, and drugs

A Fairfield man will return to Solano County Superior Court next month to re-enter pleas to murder, DUI and drug charges in connection with a fatal crash in March.

Isidro Pena Soto, 26, was held to answer after a preliminary hearing Monday to the second-degree murder of 33-year-old Kent Boone of Antioch in a head-on crash March 31 on state Highway 12 east of Fairfield. Soto also faces a trial for DUI and possession of methamphetamine in his Ford Expedition.

The California Highway Patrol said Soto crossed double yellow lines to pass vehicles at 90 mph and lost control of the Expedition which struck Boone's Ford F-350 truck. Boone, a father of five, died at the scene.

Soto will re-enter pleas to the charges on Aug. 15.

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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