Uploaded: Tuesday, October 9, 2012, 8:14 AM
Tuesday morning news from around the Bay
|President Barack Obama arrived in the Bay Area for a visit that
included two fundraisers in San Francisco Monday afternoon.
Air Force One touched down at San Francisco International Airport
at 1:50 p.m.
A short time later, the president stepped out of the plane wearing
a charcoal gray suit and a dark blue tie. He smiled and waved before walking
down the stairs to the tarmac, where he was greeted by a small group of
Obama shook their hands and posed for a photo, then made his way
to where dozens of invited spectators were waiting to meet him. He greeted
them, shook hands and gave a high-five to 4-year-old Max Frank, of Livermore,
before getting into a waiting limo. He was whisked away by his motorcade at
He left smiles in his wake, including on the face of Brian Crump,
52, of Richmond, who was wearing a "Together We Can" shirt in support of
Crump said meeting the president was even better than he expected.
"I told him, 'God bless you,' and he said 'thank you,'" Crump
He said he was impressed that Obama took the time to shake
spectators' hands and chat with them briefly.
"He made me very proud of him," Crump said.
The president was scheduled to appear at a fundraiser at the
InterContinental Hotel on Howard Street Monday afternoon before heading to
the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium for a dinner, rally and concert.
The dinner, which cost $20,000 per person, was prepared by
celebrity chefs Alice Waters and Tyler Florence.
Musicians John Legend and Michael Franti performed at the concert,
and San Francisco 49ers quarterback Alex Smith also attended. Ticket prices
for the concert ranged from $100 to $7,500.
Two men were fatally shot in a vehicle in West Oakland Monday
night, according to police.
The shooting was reported at 9:55 p.m. in the 1000 block of
Filbert Street, police said.
Police said the car traveled another block after the victims were
shot and came to rest at the intersection of 12th and Filbert streets.
Both victims were pronounced deceased at the scene, police said.
No suspects have been detained, police said.
An Oregon man has won the 39th annual Safeway World Championship
Pumpkin Weigh-Off held in downtown Half Moon Bay Monday morning.
Thad Starr, of Pleasant Hill, Ore., took home the title by growing
a pumpkin that weighed 1,775 pounds, a new California record for the heaviest
"I am surprised," Starr said after his pumpkin's weight confirmed
that he was the 2012 winner. "We're so thrilled."
Starr said his 9-year-old daughter Danika picked the seed that
grew the monster pumpkin about 105 days ago.
Starr and his two children posed for pictures next to the massive
pumpkin, which took a forklift, five volunteers and series of harnesses and
chains to position onto the scale.
The farmer said that his secret for growing the winning specimen
was his wife and kids.
"My family is my secret," he said. "All this could not have been
possible without them."
As the winner, he will receive a cash prize of $6 per pound, or
"We're going to Disneyland," Starr said.
The second-heaviest pumpkin was also raised in Pleasant Hill,
Ore., prompting Starr to say, "it must be something in the soil up there."
Steve Daletus grew the second-prize specimen that weighed in at
The third heaviest pumpkin was from Napa, weighing 1,480 pounds
and grown by farmer John Hawkley.
Hundreds of people gathered on Main Street to watch the contest,
enthusiastically cheering each weighing.
The Half Moon Bay High School marching band kept the energy up,
playing classic hits like "My Girl" and "YMCA."
The morning's festivities also included a contest for the most
beautiful pumpkin -- chosen by the audience -- a perfectly round, orange,
380-pound specimen from Portola Valley.
Grower Eric Carlson said that his beauty's name was "Eye Candy."
Eye Candy and the top five heaviest pumpkins in the contest will
be part of a special display at the Half Moon Bay Art and Pumpkin Festival,
which takes place Saturday and Sunday between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.
Anti-war protesters rallied in San Francisco's Civic Center Plaza
Monday ahead of a fundraising event by President Barack Obama at the Bill
Graham Civic Auditorium.
The several-dozen protesters critical of the continued U.S.
military involvement in Afghanistan and other military operations in the
Middle East were from the groups World Can't Wait, Code Pink and Iraq
Veterans Against the War.
The protesters carried signs with messages such as "Obama bombs
funerals," "Obama murders women and children" and "Shut down the war
machine." One poster featured the iconic image of Uncle Sam with the message,
"I want you to kill and die for your American empire."
"A vote for Obama or Romney is voting for more trauma in
Afghanistan," said Jason Matherne, a U.S. Navy veteran from Iraq Veterans
Against the War.
Matherne urged people not to vote at all, saying that in terms of
the war in Afghanistan, voting for either candidate would not affect policy.
Stephanie Tang of World Can't Wait said that continuing the war in
Afghanistan and drone strikes in countries like Yemen were criminal.
"Until we have a massive anti-war movement, these crimes will
continue," she said.
The protest also attracted some who disagreed with the cause,
including one who stopped while riding by on a bicycle to yell at the
protesters, "This is just one side of the story."
On the eve of a vote by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors on
whether to remove suspended Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi from office, a group of
domestic violence victim advocates gathered Monday to call for his ouster.
"We're standing together in unity and standing for progress," said
Andrea Shorter, a member of the city's Commission on the Status of Women.
"This is bigger than one person or one incident," said Kathy
Black, executive director of the La Casa de las Madres shelter for domestic
violence victims. "We must remain steadfast in affirming that abuse of any
form ... is never OK no matter who is perpetrating it."
The group was gathered on the steps of City Hall, where today the
supervisors will consider permanently removing Mirkarimi, who was suspended
in March by Mayor Ed Lee on official misconduct charges.
Mirkarimi pleaded guilty earlier that month to misdemeanor false
imprisonment charges in connection with a Dec. 31 incident in which he
grabbed his wife's arm during an argument, causing a bruise. He was sentenced
to three years' probation and other penalties following the guilty plea.
Antonio Ramirez, executive director of POCOVI, which provides
counseling to men who are batterers, said Mirkarimi "has a tremendous
conflict of interest" by being on probation while "holding other men
accountable for their violence."
Nine of the 11 supervisors will have to approve of the sheriff's
removal for him to be ousted.
The 2 p.m. meeting in the board chambers will include a 10-minute
presentation by the Ethics Commission, which voted 4-1 to uphold the official
misconduct charges after holding several fact-finding hearings over the past
Mirkarimi's attorneys and the city attorney's office will then
each make presentations to the board. Following public comment, the
supervisors are then expected to make their decision.
Mirkarimi served for seven years on the Board of Supervisors
before being elected sheriff last November and taking office in January.
The mayor appointed Vicki Hennessy, a former chief deputy sheriff,
to serve as interim sheriff following Mirkarimi's suspension.
Two San Francisco-based ridesharing companies defended themselves
Monday against allegations from state regulators who say that they are
operating without proper permits.
The California Public Utilities Commission issued cease-and-desist
letters in August to SideCar and Lyft, two companies in San Francisco that
offer donation-based ridesharing services via smartphone apps.
The CPUC wrote in its letters that each company was a
"charter-party carrier of passengers without a valid authority in force with
The letters ordered both companies to cease operations or risk
vehicle impoundments and a misdemeanor that could lead to a $5,000 fine, up
to three months in jail or both.
Both SideCar and Lyft both issued statements on their websites
Monday defending themselves while also pledging to work with the CPUC.
"SideCar is not a charter-party carrier," SideCar co-founder Sunil
Paul wrote. "Drivers using the SideCar app do not set prices and are not
operating as 'cars for hire.'"
Paul wrote, "We understand that the PUC has valid concerns about
the safety and fairness of transportation options available to consumers. In
fact, we have been meeting regularly with the PUC to discuss those concerns
and how SideCar is addressing them."
He wrote, "We feel that now is an important time to call attention
to the larger question of how well our current regulatory structure is
allowing technological and social innovation to thrive and provide better,
safer and more convenient solutions for our citizens.
"This is not just about SideCar. This is about our right to share
with one another," Paul wrote.
Lyft co-founders Logan Green and John Zimmer, whose vehicles sport
pink moustaches on them, also posted a statement on their company's website
Monday defending their business model.
"From the beginning, we carefully designed the service to be in
full compliance with the law. Additionally, we've gone above and beyond
current requirements by offering a first-of-its-kind $1 million excess
liability insurance policy to give both drivers and passengers peace of
mind," the pair wrote.
They wrote, "We took the letter as an opportunity to open a
conversation with the CPUC and explain what we're all about. Since receiving
the letter, we've had productive conversations with CPUC staff about how
these services greatly benefit the local community and complement existing
The services have come under criticism from local taxi drivers who
say that the companies are unregulated and take away potential customers from
The CPUC sent a similar cease-and-desist letter in October 2010 to
Uber, another San Francisco startup that offers on-demand car rides in town
cars and other vehicles.
The company remains in operation despite the letter and has since
spread to other cities around the country.
Those for and against San Jose's ballot Measure D, which would
raise the city's minimum wage to $10 an hour, held dueling press conferences
As part of the campaign against the initiative, the San Jose
Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce released the results of a study by Beacon
Economics, LLC that predicts a number of potentially negative effects if the
measure becomes law.
The report, "An Economic Analysis of Measure D: The San Jose
Minimum Wage," was commissioned by the California Restaurant Association at a
cost of more than $10,000, according to Matt Mahood, president and CEO of the
Chamber of Commerce.
The study found that businesses in the restaurant and hospitality
industry would be the hardest hit by the passage of Measure D, since about 25
percent of San Jose's minimum wage jobs are in that industry, according to
While the 2 p.m. press conference against Measure D was under way
in the Chamber of Commerce's downtown San Jose office on West Santa Clara
Street, a group of about 20 students from San Jose State University and local
community colleges including De Anza and Foothill protested on the corner
outside. They held signs that read, "Raise the Wage: $8 is Not Enough!" and
"It's Time for $10."
Like some other proponents of Measure D, 23-year-old Lisa Sallaz
is a student who supports herself with scholarships, student loans and the
low-wage earnings she gets from her job at a downtown Starbucks.
Sallaz said she believes a similar law is already working well in
San Francisco, where the minimum wage is $10.24 per hour -- $2.24 higher than
the state-mandated $8 per hour.
But opponents of Measure D say the study by Beacon Economics
indicates that the measure sets up the city to lose between 900 and 3,100
jobs in the coming years.
According to one of the study's authors, Christopher Thornberg,
that doesn't necessarily mean people who have jobs now will lose them, but
may mean that new jobs will not be created because businesses are cutting
Furthermore, according to the study, only 43 percent of people who
work in San Jose actually live in San Jose, so it's unlikely that the money
would all go back into the city's economy, even if minimum wage earners do
spend the money on immediate necessities like food and rent.
Earlier in the day, around 11 a.m., proponents of Measure D held
their own press conference.
Many who spoke at that event contested some of the Beacon
Economics projections and cited a number of other studies, which they said
had been done by analyzing events rather than models and showed that
increasing the minimum wage actually has overwhelmingly positive impacts by
putting money back into local economies and decreasing workplace turnover.
Many also spoke of a moral imperative that went unmentioned at the
"You can't live here on $8 an hour," United Way President and CEO
Carole Leigh Hutton said, "And it's not fair."
A University of California at San Francisco anatomy professor was
named Monday as a recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.
Shinya Yamanaka, also a senior investigator at the UCSF-affiliated
Gladstone Institutes, was honored for his discovery that mature cells can be
transformed into ones that are "pluripotent," meaning they can develop into
any type of cell, similar to stem cells.
The discovery of the new cell technology avoids the necessity of
using controversial embryonic stem cells to study diseases, according to UCSF
"He has opened up a whole new field of discovery, and our
scientists are working hard to advance the research," UCSF Chancellor Susan
Desmond-Hellmann said in a statement.
Mayor Ed Lee also issued a statement praising Yamanaka, who is
also associated with the University of Kyoto in Japan.
Lee said the discovery provides "boundless potential for medical
advancement" and was "another reminder of why we often say that San Francisco
is the 'Innovation Capital of the World.'"
Yamanaka, who shares the prize with Dr. John Gurdon of the
University of Cambridge, said in a statement that, "the best part about this
prize is that it will bring attention to -- and will likely spur -- the
important stem cell work that scientists around the world are conducting."
He said the technology "is for patients -- and the more scientists
who build on it, the faster we can help those who live with chronic or
Mostly cloudy skies are expected in the Bay Area today. Highs are
likely to be in the lower 60s, with western winds up to 15 mph.
Mostly cloudy skies are likely this evening, with a slight chance
of showers after midnight. Lows are expected to be in the lower 50s, with
western winds up to 15 mph.
Mostly cloudy skies are expected Wednesday. Highs are likely to be
in the upper 50s, with southwest winds up to 10 mph.
— Bay City News Service
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