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Source: MedleyStory

East Bay family tragedy triggers heated Prop. 46 battle

Bob Pack wanted to go after the HMO doctors for recklessly prescribing painkillers to a drug-abusing nanny who ran over his 10-year-old son and 7-year-old daughter as they were heading for ice cream one early fall evening in 2003.

But under California's 1970s-era medical malpractice law there was a $250,000 cap on pain and suffering. Instead of pursuing a case because of the cap, he settled so he could care for his wife, who lost the twins she was carrying in the crash.

"It would have been too difficult to tackle a private trial," he said.

A November ballot initiative named after his children — Troy and Alana — seeks to raise the cap to $1.1 million. The campaign has prompted a ferocious fight between doctors and attorneys over the rights of injured patients with more than $102 million spent in one of the state's most expensive ballot initiatives.

The campaign, which exceeds the most competitive U.S. Senate races this year, underscores the effect that reforms passed in California have on the rest of the nation. The 1975 malpractice law was the first in the nation, paved the way for roughly 30 states to adopt some limits on medical malpractice payouts and used as a template for national proposals.

More than $93 million has been raised by Proposition 46 opponents, while backers have raised at least $9.1 million, as of Wednesday.

Trial lawyers and patient advocates say the malpractice law is long past due for an update. They say victims of medical negligence have trouble finding lawyers willing to take their cases and those who do discover that California has one of the nation's most restrictive payouts.

Doctors, hospitals and medical liability insurers say raising the cap would drive up medical costs, force doctors out of state and reduce access to medical care. They say it would add uncertainty to the health care system.

Gov. Jerry Brown signed the bill that created the cap during his first term in office. It was a time of skyrocketing malpractice insurance costs that forced physicians to retire early or leave California.

The law made California rates among the lowest in the nation today. According to the California Medical Association, the average doctor in the state paid $26,511 last year in premiums compared to $99,290 in Connecticut and $137,412 in New York, two states without caps.

Under Proposition 46, the new limit would raise the cap to amount that it would have been if kept pace with inflation. The measure also requires doctors to submit to random drug and alcohol tests and require doctors to check a statewide database before prescribing drugs in an attempt to curb pill shopping.

President George W. Bush proposed a national cap of $250,000 in 2005 to stop huge damage awards as a way to reduce overall health care spending. Democrats said ceilings would simply shield bad doctors.

In 2009, the Congressional Budget Office concluded that limiting liability would lead to savings of 0.5 percent to 1 percent on health care spending, a negligible amount because so many states already have caps.

In California, the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst's Office projects that Proposition 46 would increase overall health care spending by 0.1 percent to 0.5 percent if voters approve it Nov. 4.

About 30 states have some kind of limit on the amount of damages a jury can award to patients for medical mistakes, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Most of the restrictions are from $250,000 to $500,000 for pain and suffering.

In recent years, the landscape on medical liability has shifted as courts have ruled caps unconstitutional. Florida, for example, has joined Georgia and Illinois in overturning their caps. Other caps, including California, have been upheld.

Since Texas set a limit at $750,000 in 2003, more doctors are practicing in emergency rooms and the state is attracting doctors from states without caps, said Jon Opelt, executive director for Texas Alliance For Patient Access, which represents health providers.

Bernard Black, a law and business professor at Northwestern University who has tracked caps, said limits have benefited doctors. But for patients, health care costs tend to go up and quality tends goes down.

Dr. Richard Thorp, a general internist who has practiced medicine for 37 years and is president of the California Medical Association, said the amount is never enough for Proposition 46 proponents.

"As a society," he said, "we have to decide: What is a reasonable number to compensate someone for an adverse event and still be able to provide health care to the rest of society?"

Published: Wed, 22 Oct 2014 13:25:08 -0700

San Francisco to spend $275,000 to buy tablets for inmates

Some San Francisco jail inmates were expected to get computer tablets Wednesday to do homework, read novels and prepare for their criminal cases.

The tablets were to be distributed to more than 100 inmates as part of a two-year, $275,000 pilot program, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

The inmates will only be able to access four secure websites, including a law library. They will also have access to a calculator, an education application and an education curriculum developed by the jail's Five Keys Charter School.

The tablets will be remotely monitored and can be easily disabled, the newspaper reported.

"We hope this will help bridge the digital divide and provide inmates access to technology that every elementary, middle and high school student already has, but has been out of reach for those forgotten by society," said Steve Good, the charter school's executive director.

San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi said the tablets could help make sure inmates don't return to jail.

"This is really cutting edge," he told a group of sheriff's deputies and charter school teachers receiving tablet training Tuesday. "Historically, there's been resistance, if not prohibitions, on allowing technology into the living quarters of inmates."

New York-based American Prison Data Systems developed the tablets. The company also provides the devices to juvenile jails in Kansas and Indiana and an adult prison system in Maryland, CEO Chris Grewe said.

The pilot program is being funded by a $75,000 grant from the California Wellness Foundation, $75,000 from the city's Adult Probation Department and $125,000 from Five Keys Charter School, Good said.

Most of the 125 tablets will be distributed to men and women already enrolled in Five Keys programs, and the inmates will get to keep them for most of the day.

Published: Wed, 22 Oct 2014 13:06:11 -0700

Mayor Lee says ambulance service is improving

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee has expressed his support for San Francisco Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White to the Board of Supervisors following calls by the city's firefighter unions for her to step down over the department's alleged failure to provide timely emergency medical response to the public.

Supervisor London Breed, who has repeatedly conveyed her lack of confidence in the Fire Department's administration, asked the mayor, "What are you doing to hold the leader of the fire department accountable?"

Breed expressed her view that no one should have to wait extended periods for services or an ambulance.

Firefighters unions have stated that Hayes-White's lack of strategic planning has led to the department's troubles.

A letter signed by the San Francisco firefighters' union and other employee groups sent to the mayor in September announced their unanimous decision to express their "lack of confidence in the current Administration."

Hayes-White was appointed to the position of fire chief in 2004 by then-Mayor Gavin Newsom and oversees a department of approximately 1,800 members as well as an operating budget of $250 million, according to the San Francisco Fire Department website.

But Mayor Lee stood his ground Tuesday, stating that the ambulance response times are improving, and didn't express a need to change the department's administration.

He said the inadequate response times were a result of a growing city with a growing demand, following years of significant budget cuts to the department.

Lee said that during 90 percent of emergencies, ambulances arrive within 10 minutes and that the department is working to decrease response times even further.

He said response times are expected to continue in a downward trend with the addition of 35 new hires, additional ambulances provided by private ambulance companies, as well as renewed efforts to reduce the volume of non-emergency 911 calls.

San Francisco fire spokeswoman Mindy Talmadge confirmed plans to restore the HOME team program, an emergency medical response effort supported by the city's Fire Department and Department of Public Health that is designed to respond directly to the needs of the homeless community, who make up a large amount of the 911 call volume.

Published: Wed, 22 Oct 2014 12:52:56 -0700

Rallies scheduled Wednesday on anniversary of Andy Lopez killing

Events are planned Wednesday on the first anniversary of the fatal shooting of 13-year-old Andy Lopez by a Sonoma County sheriff's deputy southwest of Santa Rosa.

Deputy Erick Gelhaus shot Andy seven times as he walked along Moorland Avenue with an airsoft BB gun designed to resemble an AK-47 rifle.

Santa Rosa police, who investigated the shooting, said Gelhaus believed the weapon was real and friends of Andy have said an orange tip on the gun indicating it was fake was either taken or broken off.

There have been rallies and protests following the fatal shooting and after Sonoma County District Attorney Jill Ravitch announced in July that Gelhaus would not face criminal charges, as well as when Gelhaus returned to patrol duty in August.

Rallies will take place today at the State Capitol in Sacramento at noon, at Oakland's Frank Ogawa Plaza at 1 p.m. and at Sonoma State University at noon and are part of a National Day to End Police Brutality and Stop Mass Incarceration.

There will be a potluck and candlelight vigil between 4 and 8 p.m. today at the shrine and memorial to Andy at the vacant lot where he was killed, said Ana Salgado, a member of the Moorland Neighborhood Group.

The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors is trying to buy two properties at the site for an Andy Lopez Memorial Park and the supervisors heard more public comment Tuesday afternoon about the fatal shooting and the deputy's return to patrol duty.

To mark the anniversary, Andy's mother Sujey Cruz posted a letter on the Justice for Andy Lopez Facebook page.

In a preface to her letter, Cruz said the family wanted to "publicly thank everyone for all their support in this very painful tragedy, and also thank those in the media that have given clear and transparent information."

Cruz also thanked attorney Arnoldo Casillas, who has filed a wrongful death suit against Gelhaus and Sonoma County.

"The name of this beautiful and talented child was and remains Andy Lopez Cruz! And he is not alone. We will fight to achieve justice for him and for all the other fallen. RIP beloved Andy, you will never be forgotten, you are in our minds and hearts every moment of our lives and we will fight until we get you justice," Cruz wrote.

Published: Wed, 22 Oct 2014 12:31:37 -0700

2 dead in shooting attack at Canada's Parliament

A Canadian soldier standing guard at a war memorial in the country's capital was shot to death Wednesday, and gunfire then erupted inside Parliament, authorities said. One gunman was killed, and police said they were searching for as many as two others.

People fled Parliament by scrambling down scaffolding erected for renovations, while others took cover inside as police with rifles and body armor took up positions outside and blocked the normally bustling streets around the building.

Witnesses said the soldier was gunned down by a man dressed all in black with a scarf over his face. They said the gunman then entered Parliament, where dozens of shots rang out.

Ottawa police spokesman Chuck Benoit said two or three gunmen were believed to be involved in the attack. Gilles Michaud, assistant commissioner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, called it a "dynamic, unfolding situation."

Ottawa Hospital said it received two patients, both listed in stable condition, in addition to the soldier.

The attack came two days after a recent convert to Islam killed one Canadian soldier and injured another in a hit-and-run before being shot to death by police. The killer had been on the radar of federal investigators, who feared he had jihadist ambitions and seized his passport when he tried to travel to Turkey.

Canada had raised its domestic terror threat level from low to medium Tuesday because of "an increase in general chatter from radical Islamist organizations," said Jean-Christophe de Le Rue, a spokesman for the public safety minister.

On Wednesday, Tony Zobl, 35, said he witnessed the soldier being gunned down from his fourth-floor window directly above the National War Memorial, a 70-foot, arched granite cenotaph, or tomb, with bronze sculptures commemorating World War I.

"I looked out the window and saw a shooter, a man dressed all in black with a kerchief over his nose and mouth and something over his head as well, holding a rifle and shooting an honor guard in front of the cenotaph point-blank, twice," Zobl told the Canadian Press news agency.

"The honor guard dropped to the ground, and the shooter kind of raised his arms in triumph holding the rifle."

Zobl said the gunman then ran up the street toward Parliament Hill.

Cabinet minister Tony Clement tweeted that at least 30 shots were heard inside Parliament, where Conservative and Liberal MPs were holding their weekly caucus meetings.

"I'm safe locked in a office awaiting security," Kyle Seeback, another member of Parliament, tweeted.

The top spokesman for Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Harper was safe and had left Parliament Hill. The U.S. Embassy in Ottawa was locked down as a precaution.

Officials also canceled two events in Toronto honoring Pakistani teenager and Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai, including one in which she was supposed to receive honorary Canadian citizenship. The teenager was shot in the head by a Taliban gunman in 2012 for calling for schooling for girls.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police warned people in downtown Ottawa to stay away from windows and rooftops.

Scott Walsh, 21, a construction worker working in a manhole right in front of Parliament Hill, said he heard shots go off at the War Memorial.

"We're in construction and we're used to loud bangs. When people started screaming and running, that's when I clued, and I saw this guy running" with a gun, he said. "It was intense. I didn't think it was real. "

He said the gunman had long black hair with a scarf covering the bottom half of his face.

Published: Wed, 22 Oct 2014 12:20:31 -0700

Huge gold nugget going up for sale in California

One of the biggest gold nuggets found in modern times in Northern California's historic Gold Country is going up for sale.

Weighing in at more than 6 pounds, the Butte Nugget is expected to carry a price tag of $350,000.

The San Francisco Chronicle reported Wednesday that the nugget's owner asked dealer Don Kagin to keep his name and the location of the discovery secret.

What's known is that a gold hunter found it in July on public land in the Butte County mountains. David McCarthy, a coin and rare-minerals expert, told the Chronicle that he took a blindfolded ride to the site of the discovery so he would be satisfied the nugget was genuine.

The gold chunk will be unveiled Thursday at the San Francisco Fall Antiques Show.

Published: Wed, 22 Oct 2014 12:05:13 -0700

Man accused of attacking daughter arrested after 2 hour standoff

An intoxicated man allegedly armed with a knife and suspected of hitting his daughter with a metal pipe was arrested Tuesday in Salinas after a two-hour standoff with police who eventually subdued him with non-lethal weapons, police said. Ramon Vargas, 63, was arrested and booked into Monterey County Jail after the physical assault that resulted in superficial injuries to his daughter, Salinas police Cmdr. Sheldon Bryan said. At 2:08 p.m. Tuesday, police responded to a report of a man under the influence of narcotics and alcohol who went to his daughter's home in the 200 block of Dennis Avenue and beat her with a large metal pipe, Bryan said.

After others in the home escaped outside, Vargas locked himself inside the home, picked up an 8-inch kitchen knife and threatened to commit suicide, according to police. The Police Department's hostage negotiation team and a Monterey County crisis intervention team also responded to the scene and officers then negotiated with Vargas for two hours, Bryan said.

During the standoff, Vargas repeatedly pleaded with police to shoot him and at one point said he would "die today," police said. Vargas also poked himself numerous times in the abdomen with the knife, became increasingly agitated and taunted and dared officers to shoot him, according to Bryan. He finally exited the home while still holding the knife, challenged one of the hostage negotiators to a fight and after the negotiator replied that he was not armed, Vargas threw the knife down and prepared to attack, police said.

Two officers armed with weapons loaded with non-lethal, 40mm rubberized projectiles fired rounds into his knee, causing him to fall to the ground uninjured and enabling police to taken him into custody, Bryan said. Police took Vargas to Natividad Medical Center for a medical clearance before booking him into the county jail, according to Bryan.

Published: Wed, 22 Oct 2014 11:46:53 -0700

Pittsburg teen shot in the head

A 16-year-old boy was in critical condition Wednesday after being shot in the head in Pittsburg, authorities said.

Police said the boy was in the garage of a home in the 300 block of Schooner Way around 9 p.m. Tuesday when a suspect shot him through an open side door facing the street.

The victim suffered a gunshot wound to the head and was taken to a hospital in critical condition.

Police said the suspect fled the scene and was not located by responding officers.

Investigators are following leads and speaking with witnesses in the area but the suspect has not yet been found or identified.

Police said the shooting victim is known to associate with a local gang and has had prior contact with the Police Department.

The residents inside the home where the shooting occurred appear to have been the intended targets, police said.

Anyone with information about the case is asked to call Pittsburg police at (925) 427-7369.

Published: Wed, 22 Oct 2014 11:09:58 -0700

Suspect sentenced to 5 years in Pleasanton pub shooting

A man who fired shots injuring a patron in a Pleasanton pub in January has been sentenced to five years in prison, police announced Wednesday.

Jason Anthony Landes, 21, pleaded no contest to assault with a firearm for the Jan. 26 shooting, according to police.

Witnesses saw Landes pacing inside the Redcoats British Pub & Restaurant at 336 St. Mary St. before hearing popping sounds coming from a rear stairwell just before 1 a.m.

Landes was firing a silver handgun at the pub's ceiling. Most of the bullets only hit the ceiling but one hit a male patron in the left buttock, police said.

The victim was at first unaware that he had been wounded until a friend noticed him bleeding. He was taken to a hospital for treatment, police said.

Landes fled the scene before police arrived but was arrested later that day.

Published: Wed, 22 Oct 2014 10:55:41 -0700

San Pablo man arrested in Richmond trailside attack

East Bay Regional Park District police have arrested a San Pablo man who is suspected of attacking a woman on a hiking trail in Richmond's Wildcat Canyon Regional Park.

Julio Rodriguez, 31, had an outstanding felony arrest warrant and was taken into county jail in Martinez Tuesday after a woman told police she was accosted a day earlier by a man who matched Rodriguez' description in the park.

The 39-year-old woman told police that at about 5:15 p.m. Monday, a stranger grabbed her while she was walking through the park, threw her to the ground and attempted to drag her into some nearby bushes.

The victim's screams scared the suspect away and extensive air and ground searches were unable to locate him, according to park police. The victim suffered a back injury in the attack but declined medical attention.

Descriptions of the suspect matched those of Rodriguez, who was already a known suspect from a previous case of a similar nature, police said.

The victim was able to positively identify Rodriguez, who was arrested at a home in San Pablo. Police will seek attempted rape, kidnapping and false imprisonment charges against him with the Contra Costa District Attorney's Office.

Investigators are also trying to determine if Rodriguez is responsible for similar incidents in or around Wildcat Canyon Regional Park.

Anyone with information or who may have seen the suspect on Monday in the park is asked to contact the Easy Bay Regional Park District police at (510) 881-1833.

Published: Wed, 22 Oct 2014 10:46:00 -0700

Is your vehicle safe?: Feds expand airbag warning

The U.S. government is now urging owners of nearly 8 million cars and trucks to have the air bags repaired because of potential danger to drivers and passengers. But the effort is being complicated by confusing information and a malfunctioning website.

The government's auto safety agency says that inflator mechanisms in the air bags can rupture, causing metal fragments to fly out when the bags are deployed. The inflators are made by Japanese parts supplier Takata Corp.

Safety advocates say at least four people have died from the problem, which they claim could affect more than 20 million cars nationwide. On Wednesday, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration added 3.1 million more vehicles to an initial warning covering 4.7 million cars and SUVs.

Car owners might have difficulty determining if their vehicle is equipped with the potentially dangerous air bags. The warning covers certain models made by BMW, Chrysler, Ford, General Motors, Mazda, Honda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Subaru and Toyota.

Most of the 7.8 million vehicles are subject to existing recalls. But manufacturers have limited the recalls to high-humidity areas, excluding cars and trucks in states to the north. NHTSA says owners in Florida, Puerto Rico, Guam, Saipan, American Samoa, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Hawaii and "limited areas near the Gulf of Mexico in Texas, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, and Louisiana" should pay special attention to the warning.

Worse yet, the regulatory agency has twice corrected the number of vehicles affected and acknowledged that a list it released Monday wasn't completely accurate. The agency urged people to use its website to see if their cars are affected — but a feature allowing people to check for recalls by vehicle identification number malfunctioned Monday night and still wasn't operational Wednesday.

Automakers have been recalling cars to fix the problem for several years, but neither Takata nor NHTSA have identified a firm cause. The agency opened a formal investigation into the problem in June, and a theory put forth in agency documents suggests the chemical used to inflate the air bag can be altered by high humidity, making it explode with too much force while deploying.

"It's in a total state of uproar right now," said Clarence Ditlow, executive director of the Center for Auto Safety, a nonprofit advocacy group founded by Ralph Nader.

NHTSA Deputy Administrator David Friedman said in a statement that responding to the recalls is essential to keep people safe.

"It will aid in our ongoing investigation into Takata air bags and what appears to be a problem related to extended exposure to consistently high humidity and temperatures," he said. The agency, he said, is tracking down the "full geographic scope" of the issue.

Kathryn Henry, a spokeswoman for the safety agency, said it is unclear whether a high number of inquiries caused its website to malfunction. Until it's repaired, she urged car owners to go to manufacturer websites or call their car dealer.

General Motors, which sold two models with the faulty air bags, planned to notify about 10,000 customers by overnight mail. The models covered are 2003 to 2005 Pontiac Vibes in high humidity areas and Saab 9-2X models. The cars were made by other manufacturers — the Vibes by Toyota, and the Saabs by Subaru.

The rare warning by regulators comes three weeks after a Sept. 29 crash near Orlando, Florida, that claimed the life Hien Thi Tran, who suffered severe neck wounds that investigators said could have been caused by metal fragments flying out of the air bag on her 2001 Honda Accord. Her Accord was among the models being recalled.

One police agency concluded that the air bags caused her wounds, while another is still investigating. NHTSA is seeking information in the case.

On Monday, Toyota issued a recall covering passenger air bags in 247,000 older model vehicles including the Lexus SC, Corolla, Matrix, Sequoia and Tundra. Like many earlier recalls, Toyota's recall covers vehicles only in areas that have high absolute humidity. GM and Toyota each told customers not to let anyone sit in the front passenger seat until repairs are made.

Toyota said it's working with Takata to pinpoint the cause of the rupture and to gauge the influence of high absolute humidity, which is a measurement of water vapor in the air.

Published: Wed, 22 Oct 2014 10:19:46 -0700

A loving farewell to a life-long friend

Maria Sharp fell in love with her beloved dog, Chubby, when their eyes first met at a dog pound when she was seven.

Through the years, Chubby shared the highs and lows of Maria’s life.

“Being the impatient seven year old that I was I would wake her up from her puppy naps so we could play,” Sharp wrote in her blog. “I just wanted someone to enjoy life with. I keep catching myself using human pronouns. Chubby isn’t just a dog. She’s my longest and best friend.”

But Chubby’s health declined over the last few years and like all pet owners, Sharp – now a 23-year-old professional photographer -- found herself facing the day she would have to say good-bye.

”I’m writing this while she’s still alive because I know if I were to wait until after she was gone my brain would be mush and I wouldn’t be able to type through my tears,” Sharp wrote in her blog last week.

She also shared a slideshow that has touch anyone who has lost a beloved pet. Quickly, it spread around the world and others shared her moments of joy and her sense of impending loss.

On Tuesday, Sharp wrote in an email to Tampa Fox 11 that Chubby had passed away.

“I couldn’t have picked a better dog to grow up with,” Sharp wrote in her blog. “She’s never let me down. I just wish she didn’t have to get old. (time to invent immortal dogs?)”

It’s a thought that all of us pet owners have shared.

Published: Wed, 22 Oct 2014 10:01:35 -0700

Drinking water ban in effect in San Jose neighborhood due to E. coli contamination

Residents in a San Jose neighborhood are being told not to drink or cook with the water in their homes because of E. coli contamination. The affected area is in north San Jose close to the Milpitas border.

The San Jose Water Company handed out notices to 300 homes telling them the water may have been contaminated with E. coli bacteria. Residents can take showers and wash their hands, but they've been advised it's not safe to drink the water. If they're going to cook using water - they need to boil it.

The problem was discovered when crews replacing a pipeline in the area took samples and found the contamination.

San Jose water officials say after further testing they've determined the water is only contaminated at 50 homes on Sydney Drive and Syndney Court. The San Jose water company is working to fix the problem.

Meanwhile, Milpitas Christian School, which is actually in San Jose near the border, is taking precautions. The principal tells KTVU the San Jose Water Company said as a precaution they shouldn't drink the water.

School officials have been emailing parents about the issue and bottled water has been brought in. The water has been turned off to all of the school's drinking fountains as well.

San Jose Water is providing free bottled water at Fire Station 19 at Sierra and Piedmont Road. A spokesman says the ban to drink water is still in effect for all 300 homes and the school because only the State Water Resources Control Board can lift the ban, and it won't do that until all samples from the area come back clear.

San Jose water says the contamination like this is a rare occurrence and crews will continue flushing the water main until the problem is fixed.

Published: Wed, 22 Oct 2014 09:58:01 -0700

San Francisco venues offer up different experiences for Giants fans

Different types of venues were hosts to Giants fans eager to watch Game 1 of the World Series as their beloved team played on the road.

At the Soma StrEat Food Park, the World Series on a big screen television and dinner from a food truck provided the perfect way to spend a Tuesday night enjoying the fall classic.

“Free entrance, drinks, food, people, Giants fans. Why would you go anywhere else?” said Rob Fontino

"See how close he was, so close....oh, " said Nancy Hernandez as she watched a missed opportunity by a Giants player.

A camaraderie develops between friends and strangers as they watched the game with like-minded people.

"We're coming into this series with confidence, we're going to dominate the series, " said Jerry Calderon, a Giants fan who was enjoying the evening with his girlfriend, brothers and friends.

Closer to AT&T park, Whole Foods Market recently introduced a new tap room for sports fans. It was the venue of choice for some Giants fans looking to relax, but still wanting company.

"People here obviously cheering. People are obviously excited but definitely a little less wild, " said Margaret Luo who said she was looking for a mellow environment to enjoy the game after work.

"The vibe is really different right when you walk in. It's really calming, a really good community feel," said Maureen Everett with Whole Foods Market.

Game one was total domination from the Giants which meant total elevation from fans.

Fans are looking forward to game 2, 3 and 4.

They say Friday can't come soon enough when their beloved Giants play at AT&T Park.

Published: Wed, 22 Oct 2014 08:34:25 -0700

Bryan Stow's wish -- To walk normally again

The San Francisco Giants fan who suffered a traumatic brain injury after being beaten by two Dodger fans three years ago outside Dodger Stadium put up his hands and fingers, fist-bumped his mom and talked about his goals in a display of his progress during a new interview aired Wednesday morning.

Bryan Stow, wearing a Giants tank top, spoke to ESPN from his parents' home in the Northern California city of Capitola, where he watched Game 1 of the World Series between the Giants and Kansas City Royals.

In an interview about nine months after the attack, Stow had trouble holding a simple conversation and appeared to struggle to raise his arms and hands or even smile.

But in the new interview, he made faces for the camera, joked about the Giants margin of victory, gave a thumbs-up sign and showed the reporter a ball signed by Giants legend Will Clark. He used a walker, but moved without assistance.

"I want to run. I want to walk, like a normal person," he told ESPN.

Stow, 45, said he is happy to be alive.

"Waking up every morning knowing I'm here. This place makes me feel good," he said.

Stow was attacked in a parking lot of Dodger Stadium on March 31, 2011. He won a $14 million lawsuit against the Dodgers in July, but his attorney sued the team again last month, claiming it is trying to recoup $3.4 million in insurance payments from Stow for his medical care.

Stow was in the courtroom for part of the trial, his wheelchair positioned front and center so jurors could see the scars on his head where his skull was temporarily removed during efforts to save his life.

Experts testified that the former paramedic will never work again and has suffered repeated strokes and seizures. They said he will require around-the-clock care.

Stow's dad, Dave Stow, told ESPN that his son has come very far.

"We didn't think he would be this mobile or vocal. He can sit and have dinners with us. He's very funny," Dave Stow said.

Bryan Stow said he remembers going to watch the Giants play, but he doesn't remember the attack. His parents say they have re-created a memory of it at his request.

"Well had I known, I would have turned to see the guy running at me and ready to clock my block, you know," Bryan Stow said.

Dodgers fans Louie Sanchez and Marvin Norwood pleaded guilty to the attack. Sanchez was sentenced to eight years in prison, while Norwood received a four-year sentence.

Published: Wed, 22 Oct 2014 08:24:45 -0700

Oakland security firm raided; Former Your Black Muslim Bakery members arrested

Seven members of a West Oakland security company with ties to the defunct Your Black Muslim Bakery have been charged with seeking and obtaining government security contracts through fraudulent credentials and insurance in a massive criminal complaint by the Alameda County District Attorney's Office, according to prosecutors.

The defendants ran BMT International Security Services and were headquartered in The Black Muslim Temple of Islam No. 1 at 818 27th St., also called Elijah's University Institute of Islamic Studies. The building was raided by Oakland police early this morning searching for evidence.

All seven suspects have been arrested as of this morning, district attorney's spokeswoman Teresa Drenick said. They have ties to the now-defunct Your Black Muslim Bakery, which was raided and shut down by Oakland police during a 2007 investigation into top members for murder, torture and kidnapping.

District attorney's inspector Patrick Johnson requested in an affidavit that the seven defendants be denied bail because he suspects their means of income for years has been fraudulent.

The defendants are Rory Vermal Parker, the apparent CEO of the company, her son Dahood Sharieff Bey, the chief financial officer, Qadirah Najeebah Bey, the chief operating officer, Jameelah Aasma Muhammad Bey, Basheer Fard Muhammad, Ira Barnard Dickerson Jr. and Billie Latrece Poindexter.

Despite being unlicensed and not carrying proper insurance, BMT obtained security contracts by filing fraudulent documents exaggerating the experience of the company and its members, according to prosecutors.

Between 2011 and 2013, the company managed to acquire lucrative contracts with Alameda County, the Los Angeles Housing Authority, and the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. It also nearly was awarded security contracts with the city of Oakland, the Port of Oakland, the city of Vallejo and the city of Newport Beach.

The many false claims investigators claim BMT officials made include that Parker had 50 years of experience in negotiation and conflict resolution management, that Dahood Bey, going by the name David Johnson, was a former FBI agent and had a degree from Princeton, that the company had prior government contracts that did not exist and that it had provided security at Disneyland.

The investigation began after BMT started a security contract with Alameda County. On the first day of service, April 17, 2012, a BMT employee got into a physical altercation with an employee of the previous security company. Hayward police were called and started an investigation.

Upon learning that BMT was still listing it as its insurance carrier, the insurance company contacted district attorney's investigators to alert them to the discrepancy. The policy had been canceled in 2009 for non-payment of premiums, according to the complaint.

Since then investigators uncovered the numerous other alleged counts of fraud in acquiring government security contracts. This year BMT was close to acquiring contracts with the Port of Oakland and city of Oakland but both deals fell apart when some of the fraud allegations came to light.

In addition to the fraud in acquiring city contracts, investigators claim the defendants were also involved in fraudulent real estate deals in attempt to acquire property surrounding their 818 27th St. building.

Published: Wed, 22 Oct 2014 08:18:34 -0700

Giants fans celebrate Game 1 win in downtown San Jose

From Campbell to Corte Madera and everywhere in between, Giants fans can feel good having a win under their belt.

At San Pedro Square Market in Downtown San Jose Tuesday night, Giants fan Nanette Skjerven was wearing her 2012 World Series Buster Posey jersey, a Giants bracelet, and celebrated the World Series appearance with a glass of champagne.

The diehard fan even named her dog "Torres Andres" after former Giants' player Andres Torres.

Skjerven says she has two tickets to the first 2014 World Series game at San Francisco on Friday. "Because it's a once in a lifetime that has happened three times in my lifetime," said Skjerven.

Santa Clara University Professor of Psychology Thomas Plante explained why an entire community benefits from a World Series appearance.

"It gives people a productive distraction from all of the challenges that are out there in the real world," said Plante.

He explained why a Game One win is unique. "It seems like the first game is so important from the psychological standpoint because it does set a certain tone and whoever wins that first game all of a sudden is the frontrunner," he said.

San Jose web developer Nathan Nguyen says he's doing his part to help the team.

The Giants fan has a new superstition for this playoff season where he must sit at one specific table at San Pedro Square Market.

"We were sitting here last time and we must sit here again or else we'll break this and they might lose and obviously they're up 3-0 so hey, it's working," said Nguyen.

Professor Plante told KTVU there's a valuable lesson for children and families in this World Series. It’s the fact that there is not one superstar - but that the Giants are a great example of the importance of coming together as a team.

 

Published: Wed, 22 Oct 2014 08:18:27 -0700

Berkeley voters warned about ballot error

Alameda County officials want to remind voters that Election Day is Nov. 4 after the county's registrar of voters sent return envelopes that say, "Election Day is November 5, 2014" to 27,000 Berkeley voters.

All other materials sent to those voters have the correct date, county election officials said.

"This is an unfortunate error on some vote-by-mail envelopes sent to voters in Berkeley, and we deeply regret any confusion this may be causing," Alameda County Registrar of Voters Tim Dupuis said in a statement.

Dupuis's office is mailing letters to each voter that received the erroneous return envelopes and is sending emails to each voter that provided an email address to the registrar. The office will also be telling voters of the correct date through social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook.

"We are glad that we discovered the error relatively early in the process," Dupuis said. "This will allow us to take a number of corrective measures in the coming weeks to remind our voters that Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 4."

A printer used by the county and other large counties in California has taken responsibility for the error. Dupuis said his office is taking additional safeguards to avoid misprints in the future.

More than half of registered voters in Alameda County vote by mail. The 27,000 voters who received the misprinted envelopes represent about 6 percent of the 422,000 voters who are registered to vote by mail in Alameda County.

This election year, voters in the county are deciding between 278 candidates and 30 different ballot measures. This means the printing task was challenging because voting guides are as thick as 130 pages and there are 158 different ballot types, according to the registrar's office.

The Alameda County Registrar of Voters must receive a voter's mail-in ballot no later than 8 p.m. on Election Day, according to California law.

Voters in Berkeley, Oakland and San Leandro will have to pay 91 cents in postage to mail their ballot, which contains three cards. Voters in other communities in the county must pay 70 cents to mail two ballot cards.

Published: Wed, 22 Oct 2014 08:16:04 -0700

World Series business brings millions to City of San Francisco

The San Francisco Giants shot at another championship is providing a shot in the arm to San Francisco's economy. And even if you're not a Giants fan, that's something to celebrate.

From the sales tax on Giants gear to the tax on hotel rooms, all of it is expected to net millions and millions for the city.

"Nobody takes that for granted," said San Francisco mayoral spokesperson, Christine Falvey. "We know that millions of dollars in economic impact are pumped into all of our neighborhoods."

The team's championship run is the cherry on top of what has already been a banner month for city coffers.

In recent weeks San Francisco has hosted two mega conventions: Oracle OpenWorld and Salesforce's Dreamforce.

OpenWorld alone was projected to generate more than $120 million in economic activity.

"We spend that on education, housing on transportation infrastructure and on our parks," Falvey said.

Many bars and restaurants were packed in San Francisco Tuesday night for Game 1 of the World Series.

"You want to have a chance to get together with your friends and experience the magic of playoff baseball," said Nick, a fan enjoying the game at Sam's Cable Car in Union Square.

From buying drinks and dinner to booking hotel rooms, fans are spending and San Francisco is seeing the value of playoff baseball in more ways than one.

"I don't think anyone down in this area or South of Market is complaining this time of year," said Jack Mogannam, manager of Sam's where business is up 20 percent.

Published: Wed, 22 Oct 2014 07:58:43 -0700

Orange and Black Congrats Ale in high demand at local brewery

Fans packed the Marin Brewing Company in Corte Madera to cheer on the Giants with the beer it inspired.

"We originally made this after the giants won the World Series in 2010. It's a pretty popular beer so we've been making ever since." Brewer Will Thompson told KTVU.

The Orange and Black Congrats Ale is one of the stars in the Brewing Company's line-up. It's a dark brew with orange zest that is in very short supply. Pailey Carroll tried to order a pint Wednesday night. "It's not on a tap now so I'm assuming it's all sold out."

Carroll's husband Philip added, "I was surprised to see a packed house and have that beer not available."

But there's more to the story. According to restaurant and bar owners in San Francisco, the brew master decided not to order the ingredients to make another batch that would cover the postseason.

Thompson says hindsight is 20/20 but at the time the call was made, the Giants' prospects were dim.

"Around the time of the wildcard, I believe was two and a half weeks ago. Right around then would have been the time to make it, or not make it. We didn't make it."

Pailey Carroll says she understand the logic behind the decision but says beating the odds is becoming the San Francisco Giants' new normal.

"This is the third World Series in five years! So how could they not brew it -right?"

Published: Wed, 22 Oct 2014 07:52:08 -0700